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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New mother left in bloodied sheets for three days and given no food for 24 hours as hospital staff 'just could not cope'

-Caesarean birth of first child 'turned into a nightmare'
-Elspeth Kirk asked repeatedly for food but in the end 'just gave up'
-Two other new mothers so disgusted they discharged themselves

By Claire Bates

Elspeth Kirk with her baby Ava and husband Dean: She said her experience following her caesarean had been awful due to maternity staff shortages

A new mother says she was left in blood-stained sheets for three days and given no food for 24 hours after having a caesarean section.

Elspeth Kirk, 29, said the birth of her first child Ava turned into a nightmare as desperately overstretched hospital staff struggled to cope.

Mrs Kirk, a teacher from Westcliff, Essex, was admitted to Southend Hospital in Essex on Wednesday, December 7 and had a caesarean section the following morning.

She was moved to a recovery ward for two and a half hours before being moved again to a post-natal ward where her troubles began.

She said: 'I couldn't move because of the epidural anaesthetic I had so they came to give me a bedbath but then just gave me a cloth and told me to wipe under my arms then took the bowl away.'

Mrs Kirk was keen to have a meal as she hadn't eaten since having lunch on Tuesday just before her labour started.

She said: 'Someone brought around the tea trolley. I asked if I could have something to eat and the woman said she would get back to me. She never came back.

'I kept asking people if I could eat but they were all so busy. They all said they would go and find out but they never did.

'I just gave up in the end - I had gone past the point of hunger.'

Mrs Kirk was eventually given a cup of tea and two slices of bread and jam at 10.30am on Thursday.

'The nurse who listened to my bowels said I should really have had food the previous night,' the new mother said.

She added that she struggled to breastfeed her daughter as there was no-one available to guide her.

When she was finally allowed out of bed, three days after the caesarean section, the sheets were covered in dried blood.

'The nurse looked quite horrified,' Mrs Kirk said.

Her husband, Dean, 32, said two other new mothers were so disgusted that they discharged themselves from the ward.

Mrs Kirk, who works at a special school in Leigh, Essex, said her bloodied sheets were not changed for three days, while the DVT tights she was given to wear to prevent thrombosis turned black because the floor was so filthy.

Despite their ordeal, the couple have nothing but praise for the medical staff who they say were desperately overstretched.

Elspeth Kirk had a caesarean section at Southend Hospital. She said that instead of a bedbath she was just given a wet cloth to clean herself

Mrs Kirk said: 'They were fantastic but they were so short-staffed. At the weekend there were just three people on duty. They just could not cope.

'They were so busy you didn't want to hassle them.

'We had to be seen by a paediatrician but there was only one on duty and he didn't have time to see us.

'Two women were so upset at the thought of having to stay another two nights they discharged themselves even though one had high blood pressure.

'The whole thing was awful at what should have been a very happy time.'

Liz Glenister, head of midwifery services at the hospital, said: 'I am sorry to hear of Mrs Kirk's experience at the hospital and would welcome the opportunity to discuss the points she has raised in person.

'I would ask Mrs Kirk to make contact with our patient advice and liaison service so we can fully investigate her concerns.'



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