We ambulance people are finding ourselves called to the Barkantine centre quite a bit these days. Amongst other things it is a birthing centre.
It's really rather nice actually – it's clean and airy, the rooms are large and have all the amenities like an en-suite bathroom, birthing pool, televisions and big bouncy inflatable balls (I have no idea, the midwife who taught us how to catch a baby never told us what that could be used for).
The staff are lovely, when I have seen them dealing with medical situations their clinical skills have been good, they also seem very happy at their job, something that is a rarity in some of the hospitals I visit, and yet I find it incredibly important. Their bedside manner has also seemed excellent, again something that I've found lacking with some staff in some hospitals.
So, why do I find myself going to such a paragon of 'how things should be done'.
Well, we are used as a a transport service when things start to go a bit wrong.
To be fair, from the policies that they have they do tend to err on the side of caution. For example if the labour is progressing too slowly we will get called to transport the mother to the Royal London Hospital Maternity department (and that department is quite a change from the Barkantine I can tell you), the Barkantine midwife will travel with them.
A little while ago I took a mother and baby to the hospital because the baby was a little strange and needed some medical attention that the Barkantine couldn't provide. Hopefully nothing too serious, but my knowledge of neonatal medicine is rather thin.
So, while it is indeed a superb place to give birth, I have just one small problem with the Barkantine – it's not in a hospital.
While they only accept patients with no expected complications, such things can always occur which is when we are needed, and while I don't begrudge them using us as a transport service, because we do this for other hospitals, it does seem to be a bit wasteful of resources.
I'd also hate to see something bad happen to a mother or child because of a delay brought about by the wait for an ambulance and the following transport through the streets of London.
The Barkantine is excellent, it's just in the wrong place – it should be in a hospital, with access to theatres and a SCBU, Consultants and 'Crash teams'. These options should not be twenty minutes away by blue light transport and dependant on there being an ambulance nearby that isn't dealing with yet another drunk.
So, when the new Royal London Hospital is built, can we transplant the Barkantine to the roof there please?
I'm working Friday, Saturday, Sunday nights – so don't expect an answer soon to any comments or emails.