I think the NHS is a brilliant institution. I have found, almost without exception, the staff to be kind and sympathetic. OK, so there has been the odd sonographer whose dropped a clanger of a comment (“there should be a baby there”), but, really, who really knows how to do small talk in these kinds of situations?
After my repeat ERPC (Evacuation of the Products of Conception) after my second Missed Miscarriage (MMC), I was so weak, having lost a lot of blood, that a nurse had to hold me up as I nearly passed out in the toilet. The care I have received has been of a very high standard. Not to mention the excellent selection of opiates and the fact that it’s free at the point of care. I am very happy to live in the UK, and to have access to such services.
The admin, on the other hand, is sometimes, frankly, bonkers.
Point 5 of the Mumsnet Miscarriage Code of Care (http://www.mumsnet.com/campaigns/miscarriage-code-of-care) is joined-up care. Three times I have had to text the community midwife to say that I will no longer be needing her services. Three times.
To be fair, most of my hospital notes have been sent on to my GP. UCLH (http://www.uclh.nhs.uk/ourservices/servicea-z/wh/gynae/gdtu/Pages/Home.aspx) is particularly efficient, always writing up the letter whilst you are there, giving you one copy and putting the other in the post. Most of the info from clinics at local services got to my GP, too.
Sometimes letters arrive months after the appointment has taken place (I apparently had low vitamin D in October 2013, and got my results letter in March 2014). In one spectacular admin triumph, I once received 4 identical copies of the same results letter from St Mary’s, London.
After MMC 3, I wanted to be referred to St Mary’s without delay, because I knew that there would be a wait, and I wanted to get on with it. It was not a problem to get my GP (who is excellent) to agree to refer me, but the system just couldn’t cope with a non-local referral. After several letters asking me to choose one of four local hospitals and a lot of emails and phone calls, I finally got my St Mary’s appointment. But I had to work hard to make it happen in a timely manner.
My (and Mumsnet’s) point is this: women after MC are traumatized and vulnerable. They do not need to spend weeks/months researching their options, making phone calls and chasing emails. They shouldn’t have to call local services to tell them that their baby has died, and they certainly (and I am so lucky and glad that this has not happened to me, but I know plenty of women to whom this has happened) should not have to suffer reminders about routine scans. Sometimes it seems that the NHS grinds under the weight of its own admin and procedures. Individuals are lovely, but the dots don’t join up.
What I can tell you is that, at the moment, if you want joined-up care, you’d better get ready to be your own secretary until it’s sorted. Chase every results letter, ring and confirm every appointment. Find out the names and numbers and email addresses of every consultant’s secretary. Be the squeaky wheel. You may wait a long time, otherwise.
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