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23 July 2013, 12:18 | Updated: 23 July 2013, 12:26
Four million pounds is being spent on improving facilities at St. Mary's Maternity Unit in Poole Hospital.
The investment will support an additional 1,400 births a year by providing an additional 13 maternity beds and three additional birthing pools. The work will include a complete refurbishment and relocation of the midwife-led birthing unit with new en-suite facilities, a new antenatal ward layout and a self-contained bereavement suite.
The local neonatal unit for sick and premature babies will also be refurbished and modernised to include new intensive care equipment as well as the creation of two extra parent rooms, a kitchen and rest facilities for families.
The bereavement suite will have two en-suite rooms as well as a separate entrance and exit, which will promote greater privacy to bereaved patients and their families.
Sandra Chitty, head of midwifery, said: "The increase in capacity at St Mary's is extremely welcome, and supports us in our aims of offering the very best birth experience possible.
"The new birthing centre with its improved facilities for water births will be led by the community midwives, and will mean much better continuity of care women classed as 'low risk' patients.
"The relocation of existing and additional antenatal beds just down the corridor from the high risk birthing suite means that women who are being induced, or might be classed as slightly higher risk, will have increased access to doctors should they need it."
Daniel Lockyer, neonatal unit matron, said: "The biggest difference will be the increased amount of space around the cots, which will significantly improve privacy."
Sandra continued: "Much has been said about the need for maternity services to keep pace with demand, and this investment will ensure Poole Hospital has the capacity to do so."
The £4m investment contributes to a total of £6.2m allocated to improving maternity care at Poole Hospital in recent years, £40,000 of which came from government funding to provide new birthing pools.
The extra birthing pools, bringing the total to five, and the 13 extra maternity beds will be available by the end of this year and the improvements to the neonatal unit are due to be completed by March 2014.