A mum from Dumfries has slammed the NHS maternity services after she suffered a traumatic birth that left her with severe injuries and mental scars. She claims that she was ignored, dismissed and mistreated by the staff at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, who failed to provide her with adequate care and support.
A nightmare delivery
The mum, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that her ordeal began when she went into labour on February 2, 2023. She had a high-risk pregnancy due to her age and medical history, and she was advised to have an induction at 39 weeks. However, she said that the induction process was rushed and poorly managed, resulting in a prolonged and painful labour.
She said: “I was given a pessary to start the contractions, but it was too strong and it caused me to have constant contractions with no breaks. I was in agony and I couldn’t cope. I asked for pain relief, but they said I had to wait until I was 4cm dilated. They didn’t check me for hours, even though I was screaming and crying.”
She said that she eventually got an epidural, but it only worked on one side of her body. She also developed a fever and an infection, which put her and her baby at risk. She said that the staff did not monitor her condition closely, and they did not inform her of the possible complications.
She said: “They kept telling me that everything was fine, but I knew something was wrong. I felt like I was dying. I was shivering, sweating and shaking. I had a high temperature and a fast heart rate. They didn’t give me any antibiotics or fluids. They just left me to suffer.”
She said that after 24 hours of labour, she was finally taken to the operating theatre for an emergency caesarean section. She said that the surgery was traumatic and terrifying, and that she felt like she was being cut open without any anaesthesia.
She said: “I felt everything. I felt them cutting me, pulling me, stitching me. It was horrific. I was screaming and begging them to stop. They didn’t listen. They didn’t care. They just wanted to get it over with.”
She said that she was left with a large scar, a wound infection, a bladder injury and nerve damage. She also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. She said that she struggled to bond with her baby, who was born healthy and weighed 7lb 2oz.
She said: “I love my baby, but I couldn’t enjoy being a mum. I was in so much pain and I was so traumatised. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t smile. I had flashbacks and nightmares. I felt like a failure. I felt like I had been robbed of the joy of giving birth.”
A lack of accountability
The mum said that she tried to complain to the NHS about her experience, but she was met with resistance and indifference. She said that she was not given a proper explanation or apology, and that she was not offered any counselling or support.
She said: “They treated me like I was a nuisance. They didn’t take me seriously. They didn’t acknowledge their mistakes. They didn’t show any empathy or compassion. They just wanted me to go away and forget about it.”
She said that she was disappointed and angry with the NHS maternity services, and that she felt let down and betrayed by the system. She said that she wanted to share her story to raise awareness and to demand change.
She said: “I don’t want anyone else to go through what I went through. I want the NHS to improve their maternity services and to treat women with respect and dignity. I want them to listen to women and to provide them with the best possible care. I want them to be accountable and to learn from their errors. I want them to say sorry and to mean it.”
A response from the NHS
A spokesperson for NHS Dumfries and Galloway said that they could not comment on individual cases, but that they were committed to providing high-quality maternity services for the women of the region.
They said: “We are sorry to hear that this woman had a negative experience of our maternity services. We take all complaints seriously and we investigate them thoroughly. We aim to provide a safe, supportive and respectful environment for women and their families during pregnancy, birth and beyond. We welcome feedback and we strive to improve our services based on the views and experiences of our users.”
They said that the NHS Dumfries and Galloway maternity services comprised a wide team of health professionals and support workers who worked closely to provide the highest standards of care for the women of the region. They said that the services included the pre-conception period, pregnancy, labour and birth and the early post natal period.
They said: “We provide specialist, high-risk obstetric antenatal care including combined obstetric-endocrine and perinatal mental health clinics. Our WINGS team supports vulnerable women in the community who require additional community midwifery support. Our labour suite is supported by a Level 1 neonatal unit. We also have a Clenoch Birthing Centre in Stranraer, which offers a low-risk birthing option for women in the west of the region.”
They said that they were constantly looking to improve their services and that they encouraged users of their services to get involved and to share their stories. They said that they appreciated the comments, concerns, compliments and complaints from their users, and that they used them to enhance their services.
They said: “We are firmly committed to providing the best possible care for the women of Dumfries and Galloway. We are keen to improve what we do by listening to what our users tell us. We would therefore welcome the opportunity to discuss this woman’s experience with her and to address any issues or concerns that she may have.”