Happiest day of my life was ruined

�A first-time mum has said her experience giving birth at The Whittington Hospital ruined what should have been the happiest day of her life.

Anneka Hemlall, 26, lodged an official complaint to the hospital trust and children’s social care about the treatment she says she received throughout her pregnancy and the birth of her daughter.

Although she lives in Essex, her partner Edward Dunne, 27, lived in Archway Close, Archway, at the time of her pregnancy so she decided to give birth at the nearby Whittington, also in Archway, to keep him as involved as possible.


But what followed was a catalogue of problems which culminated in a male hospital social worker coming into her room just over an hour after she had given birth to assess her.

The intervention started at the outset of the pregnancy after their midwife referred them to social services to try to get them housed together. However, Ms Hemlall, a mental health worker, claimed their ability to care for their unborn child was thrown into question instead, due to Mr Dunne’s upbringing in care.

She said: “This past history is his past and should remain there and not be used as a weapon against his ability to be a father.”

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They stopped pursuing a new home due to the stress caused. But their daughter was registered as a “child at risk” which meant Ms Hemlall was immediately under scrutiny after giving birth and she said she was deprived of any dignity or respect.

She continued: “What should have been a lovely experience was destroyed in every way possible. I was treated really, really badly and it has left me distraught.”

Ms Hemlall’s other complaints include staff shortages and being sent home after her waters broke only to immediately return to hospital too far into labour for her birth plan to be implemented.

In a letter to Ms Hemlall, the hospital trust apologised for allowing the social worker in the room when she was not suitably covered, fed or watered and apologised for the attitudes of staff. A spokeswoman for the hospital said it had addressed the concerns several times but would be happy to meet to talk them over.

Richard Watts, Islington Council’s executive member for children and families, said: “We’ve already been in contact with Ms Hemlall and apologise again if she feels upset about her treatment. Any questions we asked were with the intention of ensuring the welfare of her family, especially her new baby.”

He added: “We will never be deterred from carrying out our duty to keep children safe.”