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8 May 2012, 05:00
More than £3 million pounds in funding to expand the neonatal unit at the John Radcliffe in Oxford has been approved by the hospital trust.
The unit looks after the most premature babies from across the Thames Valley who need significant medical interventions, life support machines and/or surgery to survive.
The scheme will see an extension being built to the existing unit and will double the number of intensive care cots from 10 to 20.
Building could start as soon as the summer with the unit opening early next year.
The money is on top of the £2.8 million from the government in early March. The scheme has already been approved by the NHS so this is the final step.
It's hoped the expansion means they will be able to care for all babies in the Thames Valley Region born before 27 weeks gestation, improve services for babies with complex needs, and give more privacy to families with more space between the cots.
There has been an increase over the last few decades of the number of babies requiring this type of care, and although the unit at the John Radcliffe has expanded several times already, it is now felt that a bigger extension is needed to keep up with current demand.
Tony McDonald, Divisional General Manager for Children's and Women's Services at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust says they are delighted with the news;
"Today marks a major milestone in our journey towards the much needed extension of our Newborn Intensive Care Unit.
"It has long been our aim to improve the facilities for newborn babies requiring extra care and to expand the number of intensive care cots here to provide babies and their mothers with the best possible care nearer to home."