Southmead Hospital receives £321,000 funding for maternity facilities

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

North Bristol NHS Trust has been awarded £321,037 from the Department of Health to improve maternity facilities at Southmead Hospital.

The funding will be used to create a two-bedded high dependency unit to ensure women who require additional care are closer to their babies and to set up a designated birthing room for women who go into premature labour or those with mental health conditions. The funding will also enable the unit to improve the hospital’s bereavement room for couples who have lost a baby.

The trust successfully applied for the funding from the Department of Health’s Improving Maternity Settings Fund to help refurbish the unit.

Currently pregnant women and new mothers who become critically ill are transferred to the main hospital while their baby is cared for in the maternity unit. The experience can cause mothers emotional distress, can prevent the establishment of breastfeeding and can increase the risk of postnatal depression. It can also be difficult for partners and the rest of the family who can feel torn between spending time with the mother and newborn baby.

By setting up a dedicated obstetric high dependency unit in the central delivery suite these issues should be prevented, while also improving the experience of families.

North Bristol NHS Trust is a regional centre for babies born extremely prematurely – under 27 weeks – which means that women from across the South West and Wales can be transferred to Southmead Hospital when they go into early labour.

The funding will enable a birthing room to be converted to meet the needs of women and their partners who come in as a result of premature labour and care for their baby immediately after birth. It will include facilities to enable partners to stay overnight. The room could also be used by women with existing mental health problems so their partners can stay with them to help reduce anxiety, which could exacerbate their condition.

The funding will also be used to refurbish the maternity unit’s bereavement suite in response to research into the care of women who have lost a baby.

The suite already offers an en-suite birth room away from the central delivery suite where partners can also stay, but the aim is create a home-from-home environment where families can be offered support and counselling. As part of the scheme the trust will also purchase kits and train staff to prepare hand and foot casts for a memory box and upgrade camera equipment to provide photographs for families.

Director of midwifery at North Bristol NHS Trust, Ann Remmers, said: “We are delighted to receive this money from the Department of Health in order to continue our improvement of the environment and experience for mothers, babies and families at Southmead.”

North Bristol NHS Trust previously received £485,000 from the Department of Health and work is nearing completion on en-suite bathrooms in the central delivery suite, an additional birthing pool and other environmental improvements.

The Mum’s The Word fundraising appeal is also ongoing to improve facilities in the maternity unit for families.