WOMEN have spoken out about having no access to showers during their stay on the maternity unit at Darlington Memorial Hospital.

The showers have been out of action for weeks because of new filtering equipment, which had to be installed after elevated levels of legionella was discovered on the hospital site.

The filters were installed to protect the hospital’s water supply ­– but has resulted in the water pressure dropping at the top of the hospital, where the maternity unit is located.

READ MORE: 'Elevated levels' of legionella found at Darlington Memorial Hospital

It means new mums have been unable to have showers on the unit after giving birth, though they are available on other floors. 

The birthing pool is also not in use.

Mum Lisa Scott, from Stanhope, told the Northern Echo she had to use wet wipes to clean herself after giving birth to her daughter Cora, who was born four weeks ago and was unable to have a shower for the two days she spent in hospital.

She said: “The staff were amazing, they were doing a fantastic job.

“But it would have been good if the community midwife who informed me there were no showers and no way of getting a wash.

“If I had known that I would have at least had taken baby wipes.

“I was told there was no hot water and there were alcohol wipes in the toilets to wash your hands. After having a baby it’s not very good.”

She added: “I feel like they could have put something in place now. I think it’s absolutely appalling.

“To say you can go to another ward – what about Covid? We’re in the middle of a pandemic. I wouldn’t want to have to go to another ward and leave my baby.

“The poor girl opposite me had a c-section and blood transfusion and was covered in blood and she couldn’t have a shower. It’s not good enough.”

She added: “If I had known I would have made provisions. I didn’t even have a face cloth. A bit of pre-planning for expectant mothers might have been a little bit better.”

Women have also been commenting on social media:

Jennifer Jane Johnston:

I was in hospital for nearly a week to have my baby boy. They were understaffed and had so much pressure to ensure everyone was okay! As for the showers, there was others in the building that were in use - it was just the maternity unit that was unavailable.

Chelsie James: 

I had my baby there 3 weeks ago and it was beyond ridiculous! The poor staff are run off their feet trying to bend over backwards for you but the best they can do is hand out wet wipes for you wash yourself down with! Yes you can go to another ward... but then that stretches the staff yet again having to watch your baby whilst you're on another ward trying to do the basic of keeping g yourself clean... especially after giving birth!

Deb Wood-Ives

My daughter had her son there 8 weeks ago today as there was no showers on that unit. She was told she could go down to another floor to use the shower, but which new mum wants to leave their newborn to try and walk down to another floor for a shower

Sarah Grahan: 

I had my baby there 3 weeks ago and wasn’t allowed a shower. It’s not the staff’s fault but it would’ve been nice to be made aware so I could have gone to another hospital and had a nicer experience. I was in there 5 days after giving birth and had no shower! Not nice

Kennedy Zipfel:

Baby wipes were a life saver

County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust has apologised to women affected by the issue.

A spokeswoman said: “We apologise to women who have not been able to have a shower whilst in our care.   

“The safety of our patients is our first priority and we moved quickly to put arrangements in place so women are able to shower on an alternative ward.  

“Bathing has remained an option and we expect delivery of equipment to improve water pressure within weeks meaning showers on the maternity unit will be available again.”

What is the problem?

Filtering equipment has been  installed at Darlington Memorial Hospital after elevated levels of legionella was discovered during routine testing of water samples on the site.

There have not been any infections linked to the bacteria in any current or recently discharged patients, the trust said.

The situation is being monitored. 

The filters are attached to all cold taps and showers and have resulted in a loss of water pressure on the maternity unit. 

New equipment aimed at restoring shower facilities is scheduled to arrive by September 9.

The trust's statement in full: 

“As part of routine and regular testing of our water supply, elevated levels of Legionella have been detected in water samples from several areas across the Darlington Memorial Hospital site.  

"We are managing this in line with national guidance. No infections linked to legionella have been identified either in current or recently discharged patients and we are continuing to closely monitor and assess the situation. 

"We have put in place a series or proportionate mitigating actions to minimise the risk.  These include filters connected to all cold water taps - maintaining our drinking water supply,  and to showers.

“Our maternity unit is at the top of our hospital tower block resulting in reduced water pressure in the showers although baths across the hospital remain in use.  Delivery of equipment to improve water pressure is expected within weeks, meanwhile, women are able to shower on alternative wards.

"The birthing pool at Darlington Memorial Hospital is not currently being used.  We apologise for this inconvenience and as part of ante-natal arrangements women wishing to use a birthing pool, are being offered the option of going to our Durham hospital - University Hospital of North Durham.”     


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