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Live webchat with Labour shadow health secretary Andy Burnham on our Miscarriage Care campaign: WEDNESDAY 1.45pm

(85 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread. Read here.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 24-Jun-14 18:02:38

We're pleased to announce that Andy Burnham, MP for Leigh and Labour's shadow health secretary, will be joining us for a webchat on Wednesday at 1.45pm to talk about Labour's response to our Miscarriage Care campaign.

Andy has been MP for Leigh since 2001, and has been Labour's health shadow for four years after standing in the 2010 leadership election. In government, he worked in the Home Office and was Secretary of State for Health. He's also known for his work on the campaign to find out the truth about what happened at Hillsborough.

As you may know, we're asking Andy (along with the Conservative and LibDem health ministers) to include a commitment to better miscarriage care in the manifestos for the 2015 election. Do check out our campaign and our video - and please join us on Wednesday at 1.45pm. If you can't be there at the time, please post up your questions here in advance.

Thanks
MNHQ

Madrigals Tue 24-Jun-14 18:26:09

Andy, thank you very much for coming on as part of this great campaign.

I was shocked to find out how bad the care was when I had my miscarriage in 2010.

I was diagnosed as having miscarried at the 12 week scan (which I had at 11.5 weeks). I opted to wait for two weeks to see if things happened naturally, but I didn't have a complete natural miscarriage. By this stage (13.5 weeks), the consultant advised the surgery was needed, but due to staff shortages there were no slots available. I was offered an operation date two full weeks later - when I would have been 15.5 weeks. I was very distressed by this point and had been bleeding since 12.5 weeks.

I had to go private in the end to get surgical management (then called ERPC) done within a sensible time frame.

The trust concerned apologised to me and I also raised it with PALs and my complaint was agreed to be well founded.

I wanted to ask what you think needs to happen to prevent substandard care like this?

jaffajiffy Tue 24-Jun-14 19:58:21

Hi Andy. My DH and I are fans of your longstanding record of decency in politics. I've had three miscarriages and then one full term pregnancy resulting in a lovely, perfect, firstborn (you can read about those here on MN). After the second miscarriage, we went private for investigations as we valued our time and emotional health more than the "three miscarriages before tests" policy seems to not to mention that I'm no spring chicken . I think making someone wait for three heartbreaking miscarriages before offering tests is not only morally wrong but must also have an effect on productivity and career prospects for women like me. Even if there isn't a moral imperative to offer testing earlier, surely there must be a business case based on productivity and wellbeing? Will Labour commit to addressing that issue as well as the points raised by the MN campaign for better care?

Thanks v much.

woeface Tue 24-Jun-14 21:10:04

Hello Andy. I'm really impressed that you're taking the time to come on and talk about this issue. Until now it's been a 'silent' one - but it's so important to so many of us: hard to express how unnecessarily devastating poor care can be.

I'd be even more impressed if you would commit Labour to putting better miscarriage care in their manifesto, and I don't think I'd be alone.

ChairmanWow Tue 24-Jun-14 21:38:33

Great to see you taking the time to talk about miscarriage care Andy.

I have to say that I received good support during my miscarriage, which happened in 2010. Afterwards however I felt a bit abandoned, and I didn't really understand what was happening physically. I also spent my next (healthy) pregnancy in a constant state of anxiety. It would have been wonderful to have some follow-up.

Also, as more and more diagnostic services are contracted out to private companies are we going to see ultrasound being separated off from the rest of maternity care? It is extremely concerning that these services could be fragmented like so many others. What would Labour do to stem the tide of outsourcing?

NiceBlanket Tue 24-Jun-14 23:08:38

Hello Andy, thankyou very much for doing this. Really hoping you'll be able to make a commitment on this issue.

I get that some bits of the MN code may require money and obviously that's not something the NHS is going to have loads of in the next few years.

But so much of it could be achieved without big spending: getting hospitals to tell GP commissioning groups when a woman has miscarried so that she doesn't get a snippy phone call from a community midwife about 'missing' an appointment - WHY does this still happen? FGS it can't be rocket science surely?

NiceBlanket Tue 24-Jun-14 23:10:32

And getting GPs or midwives or health visitors to phone up and ask how the woman is doing and whether she needs any follow-up care; again, not expensive and not difficult.

SOrry that's two posts, will shut up now!

DoItTooJulia Wed 25-Jun-14 07:00:12

I was treated appallingly during my second miscarriage. Having had a previous MMC, at 10 weeks, I knew something was wrong. I saw my midwife who said, ah, don't worry, your scan is in three weeks, so hang on.

I phoned the EPU and explained. I was told on the phone that they don't scan women unless they are bleeding. I was told I was being emotional.

So I went to my GP. She phoned EPU and told her the same thing over the phone.

So, for three weeks, I carried on, knowing my baby wasn't alive, but not being listened to.

Sure enough, at the 12 week scan (which happened at 13 weeks) I was told the baby was dead, stopped growing at 9.5 weeks.

Why can't women self refer? Especially if they have a history of MMC, the symptoms of which, by definition, are not bleeding?

I am pleased that this is moving up the political agenda.

TheStandard Wed 25-Jun-14 09:30:09

Would you reintroduce central levers of decision-making to the NHS? It seems to have become nigh-on impossible for central government to make universal changes to hospital policy (see the Tory minister (?) this week who admitted gvt has given away all control over the NHS).

Don't you think the principle of allowing individual hospital trusts to do whatever they like (until they start killing people in large numbers) has gone a leetle bit too far? The NHS barely seems to exist at a central level any more.

Wereweatherwool Wed 25-Jun-14 09:49:19

What can be done about frontline non-clinical staff in the NHS being (tbh) unsympathetic rude idiots?

So many stories about miscarrying women being treated with horrible rudeness by receptionists and so on. I was really shocked by the woman who said on here that when she turned up in hospital miscarrying for the fifth time she was asked 'you again?' by some ruddy jumped-up front-desk jobsworth. And the stories we get on here about GPs' receptionists... lordy. What's the matter with them? And how can we fix this?

ChazMax Wed 25-Jun-14 10:03:39

Hi and welcome,

You must get so many requests for certain diseases/conditions to get more funding, more attention and so on. I guess the only real answer is 'well yes, the NHS needs a lot more money'. Will Labour be putting taxes up to pay for a better NHS? (I'd happily stump up...)

DannyTorrance Wed 25-Jun-14 10:21:51

Sorry for going off topic, but my DP is a Liverpool fan, and he really appreciated your Hillsborough campaigning (as did I flowers)

What's happening with that now? Seems like the entire South Yorkshire force from the 1980s needs looking at. Do you think some police forces effectively became an arm of the government under Thatcher?

FissonChips Wed 25-Jun-14 10:25:54

Please please please PLEASE make Mumsnet's Miscarriage Care part of your manifesto. It's so important and could help so many people.

TinyTear Wed 25-Jun-14 10:33:49

Please allow women to self refer to EPU, especially if they have had 2, 3 or (in my case) 5 previous miscarriages as we know our bodies, we know what is happening... we just want a scan to confirm our fears.

brandnewinformation Wed 25-Jun-14 10:54:46

Hi Andy. Do you support Mumsnet's Bounty Mutiny campaign to get commercial sales reps off maternity wards? What would you do about it if you got in?

Another case where individual hospitals seem to be able to do whatever they like and it's really farking annoying.

smilingthroughgrittedteeth Wed 25-Jun-14 10:56:59

Hello Andy, thank you for agreeing to take part in this, please add better miscarriage care to your manifesto.

I had a particularly traumatic experience in a&e at the start of my miscarriage, I was left to wait in the waiting room for 4 hours surrounded by drunks and people in handcuffs being escorted by police officers, until 1.30am when I was distressed and terrified. I was sent home after being told everything was fine because I wasnt in pain, the light bleeding id had, had stopped and was made to feel like I was being a pain, I hadnt had a scan just an internal exam.

2 days later we were told at a scan that our baby had died a week earlier.

the care I recieved from that point on was excellent right up to the point of the erpc (this needs to be renamed, it was not evacuation of retained products of conception it was my baby), I was then sent home and left to get on with it.

my question is how will you en

smilingthroughgrittedteeth Wed 25-Jun-14 11:02:44

My question is how will you ensure, frontline a&e staff get the training needed to deal with women suffering a miscarriage in a sympathetic and kind way and that procedures dictate that a scan is done so that no other women has to be given hope only to discover they were actually miscarrying.

and what follow up care do you plan on offering women because counselling is not readily available and I wasnt offered a follow up scan I was told to wait a week and do a pregnancy test to check my hormone levels had dropped, I cant even begin to describe the heartache seeing a negative pregnancy test caused me.

Matildaandthematches Wed 25-Jun-14 11:06:07

Hi Andy. Thanks for doing this chat.

I was lucky to have a brilliant EPAU at St Georges in Tooting on the occasions I suffered missed miscarriages. You could self-refer and even just walk in and queue for a scan, and the staff were wonderful. That would be a good model to look at in terms of self-referral.

However, they're as pushed there as any NHS unit and on every occasion, I chose to miscarry by myself at home rather than have a D&C because I knew I'd have to wait in a room for hours alongside women waiting for terminations. I'm very much pro-choice but I just couldn't face it. I also think it was just as unfair on the women waiting for terminations as it was on those women with missed miscarriages.

So my question is: do you think it's appropriate that treatment and waiting areas aren't segregated at all? And what can you promise to do about it? Labour lost my vote over the Iraq war I'm afraid but I'd be seriously impressed if you promised to put mumsnet's miscarriage care campaign on your manifesto. And I'm looking for a new place to put my cross on the ballot (mutters darkly about lib dem education policy)...

UnsureOfOutcome Wed 25-Jun-14 11:35:57

Hey Andy - thanks for coming on.

Slightly off topic, but since you're here ... why is it, do you think, that people don't warm to Ed Miliband? Why is he seen as so ineffectual? And do you think the fact that he is is going to scupper Labour's chances at the next election? As a Labour supporter myself, even I struggle to get behind him - he's obviously bright, but doesn't seem able to connect with people. Why not?

Crumblemum Wed 25-Jun-14 11:42:30

Hi Andy

Great to see you taking this issue so seriously. Everyone above seems to have covered the questions I wanted to ask on miscarriage, so I hope you don't mind me asking a slightly unrelated one.

On the Mumsnet webchat with Jo Swinson yesterday, she backed Yvette Cooper, for next leader of the Labour party. What do you think?

Do you think that the failure to deliver excellent miscarriage care to all women is part of a wider failure of governments and society to address those issues which especially affect women's lives?

For example I think maternity care could also be improved, mainly through better resourcing and a change of culture (more BFing friendly?) especially on post-natal wards.

Chachah Wed 25-Jun-14 11:49:00

The main points have already been covered, so just here to register my support. Wonderful that Labour is looking at this, I really hope you can make it part of the manifesto.

Just to add to the issue raised by Jaffyjiffy.

Why is the three miscarriages before investigations policy so inflexible? I think there should be different rules for those miscarrying twice following IUI/IVF.

I understand that miscarriage is very common and I might just be unlucky, but I can't just keep trying, I can't get pregnant naturally. Both of my miscarriages followed successful fertility treatment (clomid then IUI), but as I have 'only' had two miscarriages, the NHS will not investigate. They will however (in my area) fund two more rounds of IUI and one round of IVF. Surely it's more cost effective in my situation to investigate rather than paying for another round of fertility treatment and then investigating, by which time either the NHS pay for another round or I might have run out of chances?
That's not to mention the emotional toll on a couple going through another gruelling round of fertility treatment that may end in another miscarriage unnecessarily if they'd been investigated beforehand.

melliemoo1 Wed 25-Jun-14 12:37:25

I am also registering my support. As I understand how there is only so much money for certain areas of the health service. But the way a woman is treated through such a traumatic time is vital. These kind of events can traumatise a person for life, effecting there mental health and family life. Which should not be ignored. From personal experience through my 2 ectopic pregnancies and 2 miscarriages I feel the midwives do try to be a sympathetic as they can and sensitive but when they are under pressure of under staffed etc this can go out the window. Also going through these experiences while sat with a load of other heavily pregnant women or sat in a corridor waiting to see doctors because there is nowhere else to put you, does not help at all and adds to an already horrible experience. This is definitely something that should be looked at I feel.

needtobediscreet Wed 25-Jun-14 13:08:31

I echo Barkingtree's points especially about thorough investigations before IVF etc is started so chances of success are maximised. A lap and dye is the gold standard for pre-IVF investigations, or so my NHS consultant told me. I was
lucky to have had one before starting IVF and with hindsight I feel very lucky, though at the time I
hated having to wait for the op and the IVF.

I also think there are other commonalities in terms of infertility and miscarriage, which frequently affect the same people. Having to wait in a queue for the reception desk with pregnant women attending for routine scans when attending hospital appointments for fertility investigations was gruelling for me. There are frequent stories of women miscarrying and being put on wards with other pregnant women or those having abortions too. We need to be more sensitive to people's emotional
needs, on an individual staff level and in terms of hospital policies.

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