There were celebrations in London – in spite of the continued lockdown – as one of the country’s most prestigious private hospitals delivered its 100th “NHS baby”.
Baby Tony was born at The Portland Hospital for Women and Children to delighted parents Krystina and Mario.
Krystina had been due to give birth at Barnet hospital but became the 100th mum-to-be to be transferred to the Portland during the coronavirus pandemic.
Independent and private sector hospitals have been carrying out a number of procedures on behalf of the NHS ever since a landmark deal was agreed several weeks ago to increase health service capacity during the crisis.
The independent and private sector has been devoting staff, beds and resources – provided at cost – to treat NHS-funded patients primarily with cancer and other conditions.
But the sector has also been delivering babies on behalf of the NHS too.
After a normal pregnancy, Krystina had a scan at Barnet Hospital at 37 weeks and the couple were advised against a natural birth as the baby had grown quite big.
Krystina said: “I had always wanted a natural birth – it had been in our birthing plan from the beginning – but the baby had other ideas!”
Not long after this decision was made, the risk that coronavirus increased and the consequent need to free up capacity in NHS hospitals to treat patients with COVID-19 meant Krystina’s care was transferred to The Portland Hospital.
Her care was paid for by the NHS, thanks to a ground-breaking partnership between the independent sector and the health service agreed last month.
While maternity care is not a core focus of the private and independent healthcare sector, the Portland, which is part of HCA Healthcare UK, has specialist facilities and is known to be popular with celebrities and royalty.
When the couple arrived at the hospital, they felt confident that The Portland Hospital was doing everything possible to minimise the risk of COVID-19.
Krystina said: “Before admission, I was tested for the virus, and my husband was temperature checked on arrival, which was immediately reassuring. We truly felt that the hospital was taking a lot of precautions to keep us safe, which made the transfer easier.”
Mario said: “It was an anxious time, there’s no denying that, especially as we’d built up to this moment for so long. But I can honestly say, from the second we entered The Portland Hospital, every member of staff was amazing.
“From the reception team who greeted us, to the doctors, midwives, anaesthetists and porters – we immediately felt welcomed and at ease. I instantly felt that we could trust them.”
The caesarean went as planned, and baby Tony was brought safely into the world by Mr Christian Barnick
Mario said: “We couldn’t have asked for a more magical experience. That first moment, when the midwife closed the door to our room and we were alone together for the first time as a family of three – it was so special and something we will never forget. We couldn’t be more grateful to the doctors and midwives who helped make it so wonderful.”
Krystina also praised the hospital and its staff for helping her with care after her son was born, including advice and support on breastfeeding.
Krystina said: “Of course, having a new baby is tough during COVID-19 as we desperately want to show him off to family and friends, but that will come with time. Right now, we’re incredibly grateful to all be happy and healthy – thank you so much to everyone at The Portland.”