MOTHERS giving birth at the Capital’s flagship hospital have given glowing reviews of care at the facility – despite rating the cleanliness of its toilets as among the worst in Scotland.
According to the largest study of its kind in Scotland in 15 years, the vast majority of new mums praised standards they experienced at the Royal Infirmary – although concerns were raised in a series of key areas including cleanliness and help with breast feeding.
More than 90 per cent of mums who gave birth at the hospital said they had received “excellent” or “good” care in the lead-up to giving birth, with 94 per cent also happy with their treatment while in labour.
More patients saw the same midwife in every antenatal check-up in Lothian, which do not necessarily take place in a hospital setting, than in any other part of Scotland, while almost eight in ten pregnant mums – significantly more than the national average – said they were able to move about during labour to choose their most comfortable position while at the Royal.
However, major areas of concern were also highlighted, with just half of those taking the survey describing the toilets and bathrooms in the hospital as “very clean”. Only two other Scottish hospitals – the Aberdeen Maternity Hospital and the Southern General in Glasgow – recorded worse scores.
The Scottish Government-commissioned probe also revealed the Royal Infirmary is performing poorly in some areas of post-natal care, compared to the rest of Scotland.
Almost four out of ten new mums felt that they had not always been given relevant information about feeding their baby – almost ten per cent below the Scottish average – while only half said they had always been offered consistent advice on the issue.
Only 51 per cent of mums, nine per cent under the national average, said they were properly prepared for emotional changes, such as post-natal depression, that they might experience.
Health bosses today declared themselves satisfied with many of the findings, but vowed to take action in the areas in which they had ranked poorly. Labour Lothians MSP Sarah Boyack welcomed the fact that new mothers reported positive experiences but said the report showed the Royal Infirmary was “lagging behind” the national average in key areas.
“More generally, the report flags up issues in departments other than maternity like the cleanliness of the toilets which are symptoms of stretched staff resources,” she said.
The results of the survey come as Lothian health bosses face growing demand and a staff shortage in its maternity services. Although two-thirds of women who ended up giving birth at the Royal were offered a choice of hospitals to have their baby in, pressures at the hospital have seen mums diverted to St John’s Hospital at short notice in increasing numbers.
Sarah Ballard Smith, NHS Lothian’s nurse director, said: “Measuring feedback from patients plays an important role in the ongoing improvement of our services, and it is important that we listen to what our patients are telling us.
“Many of the results for the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and St John’s Hospital in Livingston are higher than the national average. However we recognise there is still room for improvement. We have taken the feedback about bathrooms on board and we will address the area immediately and use the results constructively to help shape our services.”
‘Midwives like friends,’ says Jill
Jill Paterson was in the Royal Infirmary for 12 weeks after complications with her pregnancy due to diabetes and high blood pressure. The 30-year-old gave birth to a healthy son, Joey, in April last year.
She said: “To be honest, they were absolutely brilliant. The midwives were all really chatty – after the 12 weeks I felt like they’d become friends.”