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messageKings v. Tommy’s - maternity
Posted by Emjew June 22, 08:03AM

Hi all, I know there have been some threads on this in the past, but I i wondered if anyone had thoughts on Kings maternity services (my local option) vs. St Thomas’?

I’ve had a couple of friends in the medical field warn against Kings (overwhelmed, misses targets etc) - although, they are not working in the maternity field, nor have had children themselves....

Based on recent objective data/reports- there doesn’t seem to be a huge amount between them, I guess luck plays a large role in your experience- but I’d be grateful for any recent experiences or thoughts.

Ideally I’d like to use the midwifed led units. Caseload care would be preferable (but I think I might only be able to get this at Kings, which is much closer to me).

Thank you!

messageRe: Kings v. Tommy’s - maternity
Posted by camberwellconvert June 24, 08:02PM

My experience is now 5 and 3 years ago and lots will have changed in that time but these are my thoughts.

My first pregnancy and birth at just past 40 was without complication and wonderful. I was under the Lanes Caseloading midwives and had my daughter in the birthing pool in the midwife led unit and was discharged 4 hours after she was born.

My second pregnancy with my son 18 months later had complications from 28 weeks and he was delivered via an urgent induction at just past 37 weeks after a very speedy delivery in a normal labour ward. He and I were then in for 48 hours observation. All was fine after that but those nine weeks were some of the most stressful and miserable weeks of my life. I had a huge amount of monitoring appointments and I was regularly there for hours with a 16 month old toddler. I was very grateful to have the hospital so nearby - the thought of regular trips any further afield getting toddlers and buggies on buses would probably have sent me over the edge. I was initially under the care of the Juniper group (the Lanes having been relocated in the interim) who were great but once there was one complication in the mix, Kings weren't keen for them to manage my pregnancy and I was then passed from pillar to post. I'm articulate and work professionally in a related area of public policy but I could completely see how people fall through the cracks as there was no communication from the hospital back to my midwife team. People on the whole were professional - I was turned away from one appointment because the consultant decided that I didn't need seeing despite the referral coming from my midwife - I wasn't the only one that afternoon. At that point my midwife (who was furious!) put me in touch with the Director of Midwifery - who at that time (I assume that she's still at Kings), was an amazing woman who put the wheels in motion so that I had as much of the birth that I wanted and that was safe. I was desperate to avoid a c-section (and there was no reason as to why I should have had one) but I was concerned that the hints that it might 'suit the hospital better' and that I'd be railroaded into it.

The birth itself was mixed. I was finally induced about 4pm (so going into the evening and labouring into the night which was one of the things that I hoped to avoid, given that we had a choice when the labour started). It was fast and furious very quickly. There were woman in other bays, first timers, who I could tell having done it once before, were close to fully dialated and yet still in the induction beds. Having done it once before I had an advantage and struck it lucky with a shift change when the midwife in charge of the induction ward found me a room so I could have a bath (bliss!!). When the new midwife came on duty, she went mad that I was out of my 'induction bed' but I basically refused to get out the bath and as she had other things to deal with, she allocated us what turned out to be the most amazing midwife - quite experienced but new to Kings, who listened and could tell that I knew where things were at and that they were going super fast. Meantime all the consultants floating around the place telling anyone who would listen that I had hours to go and mustn't go past midnight (I delivered at 10:10pm - I knew it was quick and said to my husband that there was no way that this was still going to be going at midnight). She eventually abandoned all the crazy monitoring that we were supposed to be doing and literally just got her gloves and gown on in time to catch my son after I muttered the immortal words, "I don't think that I can't push anymore".

48 hours on the maternity ward was pretty miserable - avoid it at all costs and get out as soon as you can. The midwives there were on the whole, pretty ho hum - my final midwife though who was highly experienced and took much more of an interest in me and my baby rather than just taking my blood pressure and administering my medication was excellent. She took time to answer my questions rather than saying she'd get back to me and then disappearing and not returning. There was also a superb (very, very busy and hard working) breastfeeding support worker. I'd been a huge breastfeeder with my first - I fed her to 17 months when she decided that my pregnancy milk wasn't her thing - so I'd hardly stopped before I'd started with my son - and he was a pro more of less from the minute he was born and there wasn't a huge amount for her to help me with - but if had been my first, she'd have been a wonderful woman to have had help from.

Other than the children's allergy clinic at St Thomas' (which is excellent, if not very busy and pre Covid you waited at least 6 months for an appointment for a food test), I've not really anything to compare Kings to. It is a big, busy hospital that creaks under the weight of huge underfunding and a community where much of what presents is highly complicated - but I suspect that is probably the sort of environment that St Thomas' is in as well. If you have to fall into their systems, you are treated as a number for the most part ...

My advice, if you can, stick with the caseloading midwives and use the midwife led units. If there was going to be a third and I had no constraints on the sort of care that I could access, that's the route I'd be going down.

messageRe: Kings v. Tommy’s - maternity
Posted by soph_1 June 26, 01:55PM

I am 16 weeks pregnant (first pregnancy) and so far my experience of Kings has been fantastic. They have a brand new building (3 years old but it looks like it has just opened) which is their fertility centre where they are currently holding all of their antenatal care and I feel like I'm paying for private health care when I walk in. All of the staff have been wonderful and my named midwife is very prompt in contacting me via email or over the phone when required. I do not have anywhere else to compare it with but I couldn't ask for more from an NHS service.

messageRe: Kings v. Tommy’s - maternity
Posted by motorbird83 June 28, 07:08PM

I've had both my children at Tommy's with post natal follow up with the community midwives from Kings after being released from hospital. My second daughter was born 3 days ago so fairly recent experience! St Thomas's was great and the Kings Community midwives post natal care has also been very good.

The main reasons I picked Tommy's over Kings are:
1. St Thomas is one of the top hospitals in the country for neonatal and maternity care. The most complex cases get transferred to Tommy's from far and wide so the level of expertise and equipment etc is much better than Kings if something were to actually go wrong or your baby was ill
2. Its more convenient for my work for prenatal appointments
3. You can pay for a private room if you want to rather than go on to the ward (subject to availability unless you are going fully private)

Good luck making your choice

messageRe: Kings v. Tommy’s - maternity
Posted by Ecoprincesa June 30, 08:01PM

I've worked at both hospitals in their labour ward/postnatal/NICU areas. I've also given birth at both!

I'd say Tommies has the leading edge for all the areas mentioned. Beautiful, well organised, generally better facilities. If you're looking to give birth in hospital then or if you have any complications in your pregnancy (unless they are related to the baby and require specialist input from Kings such as a neurological problem) then I'd go with Tommies.

However, Kings is also a great unit. They do extra scans during pregnancy in their fancy fetal medicine unit (but honestly I didn't love the bedside manner there or the constant pressure to get involved with research).

The main reason I went for Kings for my second baby was because I wanted a home birth. And their home birth team is FANTASTIC. My antenatal journey was much better because you get assigned to a team of just 3 midwives and they do all your checks in the comfort of your own home. There's no pressure to go through with a home birth, and if you change your mind or become unwell so can't deliver at home they will still try to deliver your baby themselves in the Kings midwife led unit. In my case, they had to take me to the hospital due to me running a fever, but they stayed with me as long as possible. When another patient of theirs was giving birth at home they went to her, and the hospital midwives took over. But they got such a great handover and they took great care of me. Oh and the home team were back to see us for postnatal care. Really lovely to see someone you're familiar with after giving birth!

All in all positive experiences for both. I would say if you definitely want a hospital midwife led unit do Tommies, if you're open to home birth definitely Kings. Good luck!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit was june 30, 08:04pm by Ecoprincesa.

messageRe: Kings v. Tommy’s - maternity
Posted by CrunchB July 01, 04:42PM

I've heard positive about both so had the same decision a few months ago (now 27 weeks) and decided to go with St Thomas' over Kings for a couple of reasons:

- The Care Quality Commission's current ratings have St Thomas' maternity in much better shape [www.cqc.org.uk]

- King's don't have the option to pay a bit of money for a private room and as they had an outbreak of bedbugs in the postnatal ward last summer, this kind of put me off. St Thomas' do have a couple of rooms for non-private patients but they're obviously subject to availability.

The unit at St Thomas' have been great so far. They've cut down the number of appointments because of COVID and my partner hasn't been allowed to come into scans (which is a shame) but otherwise fantastic so far. There's never a queue, you're never kept waiting and my dedicated team respond to questions via email incredibly quickly.

Best of luck with it all!

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