Woman forced to give birth on pavement outside maternity unit

Lisa McNeil claims she was forced to give birth outside the Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy

A TRAUMATISED mother was forced to give birth on a hospital pavement after nurses took almost four minutes to answer the buzzer on the maternity unit door.

Lisa McNeil gave birth to a baby boy on the doorstep of the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, Fife, on one of the coldest nights of the year.

The temperature was -4C in the early hours of Sunday when the 25-year-old gave birth to Jackson.

She was helped by her mother, Karen Barnes, 46, who used her cardigan as a safety net to stop the infant hitting his head on the concrete path.

The family insist they waited six minutes before midwives arrived, and that Karen even used her fingernails to try to prise open the doors.

NHS Fife claimed last night that staff were on the scene within two minutes.

But their own timings, based on phone and video evidence, shows at least three minutes and 49 seconds elapsed between the buzzer being pressed and help arriving.

And 25 minutes earlier, hospital staff had themselves advised the expectant mother to come in.


Jackson, who weighed a healthy 8lb 14oz, was doing well last night but his mother said the experience was humiliating and horrific.

She said: “It was like a horror movie. I was in a lot of pain and bleeding.

The doors of the maternity unit are locked at night

“It was surreal. They knew I was coming but no one heard us buzzing to get in or our screams for help.

“We were trying to get in for six minutes before I had no choice but to give birth there and then.

Lisa said she was “humiliated” when she was forced to give birth in front of strangers outside the Victoria hospital in Kirkcaldy.

She said: “I don’t think anyone should be put through the humiliation of having to give birth on a pavement outside a hospital in front of strangers.

“I dread to think what could have happened to Jackson if my mum hadn’t caught him in my cardigan. He could have hit his head off the pavement.

“It still hasn’t sunk in and I feel a bit dazed about it like it happened to someone else. I can’t take it in. It is quite unbelievable really.

NHS Fife issued a statement last night in which they said the family called at two minutes to midnight and were advised to go to the maternity unit.

They claimed: “Midwives were with the lady within two minutes of her arrival at the door.”

The timings show that Lisa, her mother and partner Ryan, 22, pushed the buzzer at 27 minutes and five seconds past midnight.


NHS Fife said in its statement this was the buzzer for “assessment” and not for the delivery suite, the button for which was pressed just over a minute later.

Midwives arrived at Lisa’s side at 30 minutes and 54 seconds, by which Jackson had been delivered.

Lisa said the situation was a “disgrace” but she did not blame the nurses for what happened.

NHS blamed the delay on the wrong buzzer being pushed

Lisa added: “It is not their fault that the buzzer is in the wrong place and they can’t hear it.

“The buzzer is linked to a video intercom which is placed in the maternity ward but the nurses are busy and they didn’t hear it.

“I don’t think they should lock the maternity unit at night at all.

“Something needs to be done to make sure this never happens again.”

She said of the nurses: “They were fantastic and very apologetic when they came down and saw me on all fours on the pavement.”

But she added: “I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t speak out about this. I am still in shock but I wouldn’t want this to happen to anyone else.”

Her mother called for an investigation into the issue of the unheard buzzer.

She said: “This should never have been allowed to happen in a new state-of-art hospital which just opened last month.

“It was a nightmare I will never forget.

“My poor daughter was forced to pull down her underwear in front of passers-by and get down on her hands and knees on a frozen pavement to give birth to her child at the door of a maternity unit.

“It is scandalous and must never, ever happen again. I kept my hand on that buzzer for six minutes and shouted and screamed and even tried to prise the door open with my fingernails but no one came.

But she added that she could not fault the nurses who eventually came to her daughters aid.

“I don’t blame the nurses either. They are very busy and didn’t hear the buzzer but the whole system need to be looked at and they need to make sure that is manned round-the-clock.

“I will be calling for an investigation into this to make sure no one has to suffer and be humiliated like my daughter.”


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