Health writer (and mother of two girls), Rachel Ellis re-visits The Portland Hospital after eight years to see the changes and complete renewal of Britain’s most famous mother and baby hospital. Here’s her personal report of what she saw.
Mention London’s Portland Hospital and most people think of top quality maternity care in luxurious surroundings.
And they are right – the 75 bed private hospital in the heart of the capital delivered nearly 2,000 babies last year.
A recent £2.5 million refurbishment of the hospital which opened in 1983 means facilities on its three maternity floors outshine many of its competitors.
Each woman has her own room, spotlessly clean and tastefully decorated in muted tones, with en-suite bathroom and there’s even a living room for those who are willing to pay for the privilege.
One-to-one care from a midwife is guaranteed during labour, so there is no question of being left alone at this crucial time.
Giving women the choice
Giving women the choice about how they want to give birth is a top priority at the hospital. For those who want or need a surgical birth – 52 per cent of women giving birth at the hospital have a Caesarean – there are four operating theatres.
And, although the hospital doesn’t have an adult intensive care unit should anything go wrong, the number of unplanned transfers to linked hospitals just five minutes away, is extremely low, just 0.2 per cent last year.
An obstetric resident doctor (RMO) and consultant anaesthetist are resident in the hospital 24 hours a day.
For newborns who need specialist medical care, there are three neonatal intensive care cots and a four cot special care baby unit.
There is also help at hand for new mothers around-the-clock with a team of midwives and nursery nurses who offer support with breastfeeding, bathing and changing the newborn or simply looking after the baby for a few hours so that new mums can get a good night’s sleep.
Such is the reputation of The Portland Hospital that it is a popular place to give birth among celebrities and the well off (the average cost of having a baby at the hospital is between £7,995 and £9,500).
Indeed, women travel from all over the country and from abroad to have their babies there.
The UK’s largest private paediatrics hospital
But there is so much more to the hospital than maternity care – as its full title, The Portland Hospital for Women and Children, indicates.
It is UK’s largest independent children’s hospital treating a staggering 7,500 sick children last year – along with 35,000 paediatric outpatient visits.
The 29 children’s beds on brand new in-patient and out-patient wards treat babies and children under 16 with a huge range of conditions.
Medical specialties, to name but a few, include dermatology, surgery, orthopaedics, allergy and immunology, spinal surgery, ear, nose and throat and cochlear implants.
Uniquely for the private sector, the hospital also provides rehabilitation and diagnostic facilities including MRI scanning, especially for paediatrics, physiotherapy, and boasts a new five-bed children’s neurological rehabilitation unit.
Women’s health – total care
In addition to maternity care, the Portland also offers a range of other medical services for women.
A dedicated 11 bed ward treats women with conditions such as fibroids, cystitis, infections, problems associated with the menopause, osteoporosis and breast problems.
A further string to its bow is the scanning (X-ray, ultrasound, MRI, bone density, fluoroscopy) and screening services it provides to both in-patients treated at the hospital and out-patients.
The Portland Hospital already has a tremendous reputation offering personalised, attentive care to women giving birth. But the hospital also offers so much more to thousands of other women and children – a fact that should be celebrated and not forgotten.
More than 400 specialist senior doctors work at the hospital – many of whom are world leaders in their field.
This means that people who become patients at the hospital can be reassured they are receiving the best possible care you can find.
For further information please contact The Portland Hospital on 020 7580 4400.