Rants, Raves, Reviews

Wellington Hospital Maternity Care

By Gary R, in , posted: 5-Dec-2007 09:40

Wellington Hospital has been in the media again, this time over the death of a baby girl. Within hours of being born the baby and mother were sent home by the hospital.

This really doesn't surprise me at all. My wife and I experienced first hand the conveyer belt mentality of Wellington Hospital a couple of years ago with the birth of our first child. My wife went into labour at 7pm on a Thursday and gave birth at 6am the next day, by 4pm I was collecting my wife and son to take them home. The level of care was actually quite atrocious; after my son was born we were left to fend for ourselves. This included trying to care for and clean up our son, trying to get him to feed for the first time and stripping and remaking the bed. The whole process was very DIY which is a bit daunting for first time parents.

But really the whole process from conception to birth to post-natal care and support was quite a joke. For a start we could not get a mid-wife, fortunately for us we were able to secure the services of Dr Denis Delany who is the only GP still delivering babies in Wellington. Then we had the hospital experience and afterwards we received no mid-wife or Plunket follow up. My wife really had to push to obtain any support at all.

What I found really bizarre is that in Wellington there is no private maternity hospital. I would have paid money to ensure that my wife and child received the best care possible including staying a few nights to give my wife a bit of time to bond to and get used to our son. But there is simply no option.

If we have a second child, my wife may as well give birth in a mud hut or a rice paddy.

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Comment by sbiddle, on 5-Dec-2007 09:56

The scary thing is this is just the tip of the iceberg. Our health system is a disgrace. End of story.

We based our system on the British NHS which is now the biggest joke in the world and we're got MP's in denial that problems even exist.

Comment by stevonz, on 5-Dec-2007 10:17

Steve, while Wellington (and other regions) have their issues we just had our 2nd baby girl here in New Plymouth and all I can say is WOW!

We had our 1st in London - CRAZY CRAZY busy - but we still had excellant care & is was free.

When we had our 2nd here in New Plymouth, I must admit we were taken a back. Friendly, helpful... own room pre & post natal. It was clean/ modern & NO PRESSURE to leave - they even pressured my wife to stay longer!

So the whole of the NZ healthcare system isn't disgraceful - just most of it!

Oh & walk in medical centres - walk in and see a doctor before you get past the 1st page of the Womans Day mag!!!

Pity I leave the Naki in March...


Comment by allan, on 5-Dec-2007 10:43

Wellington did of course once have a specialist maternity hospital, St Helen's in Coromandel St. It was generally regarded as providing an excellent service, but closed down in 1980 for the "improved" facilities at Wellington Women's Hospital. It's probably all been downhill since then....

Comment by lugh, on 5-Dec-2007 13:03

Thankfully, my wife and I had a really experienced independent midwife who was happy to bully the staff in the Wgtn delivery suite (inlcuding the specialists). Can't say our "service" was too bad overall, although the resident specialist did come close to pushing me too far with his "she'll be right" attitude - to give him some credit, he apologised in the end. Her Indoors had to stay in the post-natal suite for a couple of days after the Grade 4 tear and we found the hospital midwives to be quite helpful and informative (though they did need the occasional push).

@sbiddle - I don't think it's a case of MPs in denial but more that any information has got to go through several bureaucratic filters (DHB and MoH) before they find out about anything... especially as Capital & Coast seem to be pretty good at hiding their mistakes. DomPost today remarked on the irony of the Govt finding out thorugh the media first.

Comment by TinyTim, on 5-Dec-2007 14:19

We've had a couple of kids at the hospital, had a mix of good experiences and bad experience, and some bizarre ones (like my wife being put in the gyn ward because the maternity ward was full, so she was alongside women who have just lost babies and have had hysterectomies - how thoughtful). But overall it was definitely ok.

With regards to Wellington private care, perhaps they're waiting till the new hospital's finished before they decide what's needed. Although it's got fewer post natal beds apparently it's going to be a lot nicer - private rooms with beds for partners. What's amazing is in Chch the private hospital St Georges does maternity for free - they get contracted to provide the service. But you have to be low risk to give birth there because they don't do caesarians.

@sbiddle: Ok, we have major health board problems, and we have beauracracy problems, but those aside (and there's probably not a lot left) We have always found the medical care to be outstanding (maternity or otherwise), despite the conditions the staff endure. During the birth of our first the midwife at one point pressed the buzzer twice (the 'urgent' signal) and the registrar was there in about ten seconds. When our second got meningitis they were on to it in a flash, and had started the treatment before the spots even appeared. In fact they got onto it so early she was home in 48 hours.

Comment by KiwiOverseas66, on 5-Dec-2007 19:51

2 of our 3 kids were born at Wellington womens and I have to say our experience was great. Our second in particular was a bit of a rush (she was almost born on the motorway - arrived at the delivery suite with 15 minutes to spare - not even enough time for the epidural). I think it helped we had a great GP (Penny Clifford) who was still doing deliveries at that time - and a fabulous mid wife (and the two of them had been working together for years). If I had to point to a key factor - that would be it - great GP and mid wife.

Our third was born at a birthing unit in Paraparaumu - which was also fantastic (my wife stayed 2 days and left at her insistence - not theirs). Also, we found the whole end to end process great - for the neo natal classes to the plunket follow up (same plunket nurse for all 3 kids spread over 9 years).

Sorry to hear your experience wasn't that great overall as I always thought the baby side of the health system was a strength. I know I was amazed at the systems that kicked in when our children were born (they are now 11,8, and 4). I felt kinda sorry for the nurses, etc working at wellington womens because man, the place was old! The whole place is desperately in need of a rebuild - some of the wards look like something straight out of the 70s!

Agree with you comments about the health system overall. Not sure the whole DHB experiment is that big a success. Having had a bit to do with IT at capital coast - ummmm.......its a bit DIY as well. To be honest - I would rather see the government put some that budget surplus into some serious health infrastructure - as opposed to metro fibre, buying an ISP, or submarine cables for that matter.

Comment by Miki Szikszai, on 7-Dec-2007 23:46

Hmmmm - if you lived in the Hutt you would have found maternity care in the hospital better. Although I would have to say that the key to our experience was the midwife - they've copped alot over the last few years, primarily due to a corporate view of having a baby. Wtf is it with having a 'lead maternity carer'? Its like a project manager took over the birthing process rather than dealing with the fact that its a major life experience....

You do have other choices in NZ if you want private maternity care - apparently very good in Auckland, but then you'd have to give up your mudhut...

Comment by Miki, on 7-Dec-2007 23:48

Oh - and I forgot to say - the saddest thing about your post is that you are not surprised. Clearly our overall view on what to expect from a primary social service that is about the future of our country is that we shouldn't expect too much at all. Have we just given up ?

Comment by joker97, on 8-Dec-2007 20:33

I totally feel for you and believe that what you experienced was real!

However to put things in perspective, first we must understand no health system is perfect - whether in the 3rd world or NZ or Oz or the States. Population medicine is just what it is - make a system that caters for everyone - doesn't work all the time as we are not Toyotas, just plug in the diagnostic and bravo there's the fix ...

Secondly, my sister in law was failed by a driving testor who declared at the start, I'm having a bad day - just do your thing. 2 days later without any further practice, she got the same guy and passed with flying colours. Imagine your wife giving birth - health staff are humans, and unless you have TMO (video ref, mind you even then there're still shortfalls!) there will always be the human factor involved ...

Hopefully your next one will be better!

Comment by Charmaine, on 29-Jul-2008 10:40

AT the end of the day no one is supose to have a bad experiance. You go to the hospital for care and it is their responsibility to do that.

NZ need to wake up and smell the coffee. They are dealing with real people here and their lives.

They need to ask themselves how they would like to be treated when they lay their for their first time giving birth. I don't think that any hospital have the right in any way to just send a woman home after one day or even on the same day. That is just nonsence. Normal births, a woman sould be able to stay for 3 days to rest and to make sure that the baby is ok. That is commen sence man. I mean your body goes through so much.

I dont know, but this country will have to do something about their medical system and then I am not even talking about the docters here. I dont know how some of them got their qualification. It is sad really sad.

Comment by Tuesday, on 27-Jan-2009 16:35

If you want what's best for your baby stay away from the drugs and the hospitals and a mud hut would be way better than any hospital unless you have an energency and have to go there. Have babies at home where they belong and where you are comfortable! That's my take :)

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