The Problem With The NHS Is People Like Me!

The Problem With The NHS Is People Like Me!

My Mum and I were out for lunch. It was my first proper day out with her since having my 12 week old baby Louis. As we sipped on a Kir, she showed me the headline in The Daily Mail which was about the dangers of Out of Hours Care (or lack of it) during childbirth in the NHS and she pointed out that I had a story. I did indeed have a story. I was stuck in the assessment room at UCLH for 2 and a half hours with no pain relief apart from paracetamol. Not even gas and air. I was contracting pretty much back to back and not only was I in agony but I was petrified after a very tricky labour first time round. To me that situation was wrong and I still passionately believe that no woman should be left in agony and fear during childbirth. This was indeed a story. What I now need to point out though is that it was only the first chapter.

Practically within minutes of my mainly negative article being published, the comments started pouring in and I don’t need to tell you that in the comments section of the Daily Mail Online there lurk some particularly unsavoury characters. But in the same way that there is a little truth in every joke, it struck me that there is a little truth in every trolling. Well there certainly was in this case.

Looking back at my article as I have done so many times (in embarrassment and regret) since it has been published, I realise that I felt like I had some kind of sense of entitlement as I lay shouting in that hospital. Yes I was in agony. Yes I was scared. But what about the emergencies that were being dealt with whilst this was happening? The midwives weren’t enjoying seeing me in pain. They were just doing their best in the circumstances. I forgot how hard they were working, how exhausted and stretched they were and I put my suffering first. I was selfish.

It made me look at the bigger picture too. When we feel something is wrong about the NHS what’s the first thing we should do? Go shouting to the press? Try and get compensation from one of those ghastly claims companies or should we be proactive? The answer is of course yes. We must be proactive.

I’m forever reading about what’s wrong with the NHS in the papers, hearing politicians foretelling it’s collapse and I added to the cacophony by publishing a negative aspect of my own experience. Focusing on the negative perpetuates the negative, fuelling the fires of the story that the NHS is broken and failing us all when in fact it’s not.

If I were to write the whole story about my experience at University College London Hospital I’d talk about the anesthetist who held my hand during my caesarean because I was so scared, the paediatrician who answered my email on a Saturday night to reassure me, the midwife who supported me throughout my whole pregnancy and much of the birth, the neonatal specialist nurse who took blood from my one day old son’s tiny fragile veins, barely thicker than a line of pen, with such tender care and skill. The people who were there when they were really needed and who went above and beyond the call of duty for me and my baby.


I have learnt so many lessons from writing that article. Stop looking for the big story and see the whole picture. Ask yourself, what was your experience of the NHS? Yes you might have waited 4 hours to be seen in casualty, yes the ward might have been a bit shabby, but how many emergency ambulances did you hear arrive in that time? How many Drs and Nurses did all that they could to make you better?


The NHS is so valuable. We all need to treasure it and be grateful for everything that it does with less funding than it needs. I will forever regret writing that article and I have learnt so much from it. If we take one little chapter from a much larger story we continue to perpetuate the myth that the NHS is failing. It is not. It is doing the best that it can and that’s all that any of us can ask.




Please like & share:


  1. Bianca
    30th October 2016 / 9:34 pm

    What a brave article to write. Well done x

  2. 31st October 2016 / 10:29 am

    Well that was a total 360! RRetrospet is a wonderful thing. Thanks for the follow up post giving a clearer sense of your real feelings 🙂

  3. Ali
    31st October 2016 / 11:11 pm

    Thank you.

  4. Rebekah Hock
    1st November 2016 / 7:24 am

    So true Nicola. My first son and I were kept in hospital for almost a week, I was desperate to get home but looking back it was so beneficial to stay in and everyone we encountered were amazing x

  5. Taylour
    2nd November 2016 / 9:25 am

    Hallelujah, health care professionals are in it because we want to help and care for people, not because of the money or the hours we all work. We do our best with the resources we have and mostly love our jobs and giving the extra we can to make patient’s experiences better. Thank you for your brave complete turn around and bringing this to people’s attention.

  6. Jackie
    2nd November 2016 / 5:40 pm

    Please please get the daily mail to publish this .

  7. Julie
    3rd November 2016 / 8:24 am

    Hi Nicola, wow, I am so impressed with you for this second blog. I was one of the commentators of your original article in the Daily Mail (( hate that newspaper!) It is very demoralising when one constantly sees articles dissing the NHS and in particular maternity. I am a midwife and whilst I realise that not every midwife is going to fit into the mould very well, the majority of us work our guts out to try and provide kind and professional care. We work in an environment of fear, constantly worrying about the mothers and the babies in our care and also worrying about every decision we might make and whether it is the right decision or whether it will lead to catastrophe. We also constantly worry about litigation and complaints.

    Thank you for this. It means the world to us midwives and doctors trying to provide the very best care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  8. Jobbing NHS worker
    3rd November 2016 / 10:56 am

    Kudos for this article. Unfortunately thousands more will have read the original one in the daily fail and will be terrified about giving birth. We try our best and sometimes it isn’t enough but that’s mainly due to resources, not people. You should have been given gas and air ideally, but other than that sometimes people have to wait. There is always the private option if that isn’t amenable to your needs.

  9. Isobel
    3rd November 2016 / 11:46 am

    You are a very honest and brave person

  10. sarah
    4th November 2016 / 7:26 am

    Thank you for your reflective views on what the NHS provides.
    As an ‘insider’ I know first hand how hard we work for the NHS: we all go above and beyond. We often work to within an inch of our own sanity to ensure people feel safe during childbirth but we are (as often reported) so STRETCHED people feel abandoned.
    Everything in a hospital is priority based so often the ones shouting the loudest (about their wait) are the least needy which is why they can easily judge.
    I can confidently reassure prospective mothers neither me or my colleagues will stop or rest if needy women are waiting. We are struggling to keep the NHS afloat and MISS BREAKS, STAY LATE, AND COME IN ON DAYS OFF because we care xxxxx ❤

  11. 15th November 2016 / 3:42 am

    Today I read your story in the DM for the first time, and I also read this one:

    There is a very serious problem in many maternity wards in the NHS, and that is the approach of promoting normality and reducing caesarean rates to arbitrary levels; it is process rather than outcome driven.
    Death and injury during pregnancy and birth are both completely normal, and had you experienced a fatal uterine rupture while waiting for your caesarean (or being refused a caesarean, as has happened to other women), you would probably be talking to solicitors right now instead of apologising for being selfish.

    I admire your bravery for speaking out, and before I knew you’d written your new post, I actually came here to say that I think many of your fears while in labour were entirely understandable. While the NHS certainly is a valuable and praiseworthy service, it can and should do better when it comes to maternity care, as highlighted by both a Supreme Court ruling last year and the Morecambe Bay report.

    The maternity care system (including staffing and clinical resources) needs to be restructured in many areas in order to accommodate the increasing numbers of women who are needing and/or choosing a caesarean delivery. We need to reduce the risk of babies dying while waiting for planned or emergency surgery, both for the sake of families and for the sake of NHS finances.
    Maternity litigation costs are colossal (and have been for some time), and repeating the same mistakes, over and over, takes money away from maintaining and improving NHS services.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *