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Building starts on new Furness maternity unit

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Building work has started on a new £12m maternity unit at Furness General Hospital in Lancashire.

The final opening date for new state-of-the art maternity unit is yet to be confirmed, but is likely to be in early 2018. It is due to be completed by December 2017.

“It’s about the trust and the local community moving forward together”

Sascha Wells

Improving the “physical environment” of the hospital’s labour ward was a recommendation of the Kirkup report into past maternity care failings at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.

The benefits of the new unit for local families will include improved access to dedicated operating theatres for women in labour, said the trust.

In addition, it will mean improved ability for staff to observe and respond to all women in labour.

All bedrooms will have en-suite toilet and shower and there will be improved facilities for the women and children’s unit as a whole

It will include 14 en-suite birthing rooms, two dedicated theatres, a special care baby unit, maternity assessment, and a bereavement suite.

The unit will be built adjacent to the current antenatal and gynaecology clinic at the hospital and will be split over two floors.

Sascha Wells, the trust’s director for midwifery, highlighted that the unit had been designed with input from staff and local women.

“Right from the start, we involved local women and their families’ so we could be absolutely certain that the new unit met their needs and wishes, alongside that of our frontline staff to ensure the highest possible standards in maternity care are met,” she said.

Sue Smith

Sue Smith

Sue Smith

“Today is not just about laying the physical foundations of our new maternity unit; it’s about laying the foundations for the future,” she said. “It’s about the trust and the local community moving forward together”.

Sue Smith, executive chief nurse at the trust, said “Prior to, and following the publication of the Morecambe Bay Investigation report last year, there has already been a considerable amount of work by our trust to improve and strengthen maternity services.

“We are fully committed to meeting the recommendations of the Morecambe Bay Investigation,” she added.

Maternity services at Furness General will continue to be delivered out of the current unit, which dates from the 1980s, until the new one is handed over, noted the trust.

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