Lewisham Labour

How will Brockley's next generation of yummy mummies be catered for? Brockley Central went gonzo to find out...

Lewisham Hospital's Maternity Ward encapsulates much of what is good and bad about the NHS.

At first sight, it's fairly grim. On a pre-birth tour of the facilities with a host of mums, you could see smiles of first-timers drop as they inspected the rooms where they would have to undergo "the magic of childbirth". Despite being refurbished in 2003, the ward isn't pretty, the hospital is fraying at the edges and, currently, the delivery rooms overlook a building site, which means they're very noisy during the week. There's only one birthing pool, so your chances of getting in are slim.

However, the battle hardened labour-veterans, who knew the visceral truth of what lay in store, were more pragmatic.

When the reality is more Dante than Disney, you want to know: Are the rooms clean? Are the staff competent and properly resourced? Are there plenty of doctors on-hand? Is there somewhere comfortable for the dad to sit?

We're conscious that the childbirth experience is highly personal (and the greatest tragedies that have befallen our friends have happened is some of the most reputable hospitals) so we can't offer a definitive answer to any of these questions, except the last one, which is a resounding no.

In our own experience though, all of the staff were calm, professional and didn't patronise - the mother's wishes came first and the father was made to feel welcome, even when he sat in the wrong place.

The rooms are decent-enough; brighter and seemingly cleaner than the rooms to be found at Woolwich and Sidcup.

When we arrived, we were made to wait for over an hour before we could be seen, but it was clearly a very busy time for the staff who were coping with a glut of deliveries. From the point they finally got around to seeing us, we were well-attended to.

This standard of care followed us home, with regular visits from midwives, who were friendly and professional.