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New state-of-the-art neonatal unit ready to open in Barnsley

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A multi-million-pound overhaul of the neonatal unit at Barnsley Hospital will bring care for premature babies and their families into the 21st Century, a leading nurse at the centre has said.

The grand opening of the new unit in South Yorkshire will take place on November 8 with special guests including former cricket umpire Dickie Bird, who has donated thousands of pounds to the project.

“The biggest benefit will be the change to parents who can sometimes spend weeks or even months on the unit with their baby”

Angela Whelton

The fresh unit has been relocated and redeveloped as part of a wider refurbishment of the hospital’s women’s block, which is the oldest part of the hospital estate built in 1973.

The new neonatal unit has 14 cots: two intensive care, three high dependency and nine special care.

The intensive care space has increased to allow staff to bring the mother straight from delivery to visit her baby, and the unit also features new en-suite family rooms.

Angela Whelton, lead neonatal nurse at Barnsley, said: “During the 28 years I have worked on the existing neonatal unit, neonatal care has progressed dramatically. The babies we would once have struggled to save are now surviving with great outcomes, thanks to the advances in medical care.

“Our old unit was not built with parents so much in mind. The actual care we give the baby in our new unit will not change: the biggest benefit will be the change to parents who can sometimes spend weeks or even months on the unit with their baby.

“This new unit is bringing our environment into the 21st century. The hospital has invested a large amount of money to make this happen but none of it would be possible without the generosity of the people of Barnsley.”

The team for the new unit will include 34 nurses and six healthcare assistants, along with doctors, dieticians, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists and pharmacists.

“The hospital is an amazing place to be part of and our staff deliver the most incredible care”

Steve Wragg

The nurses’ station has been “strategically placed” in a position where all cot bays are in sight, and a new nurse call system has been created.

Three new £25,000 ventilators have been installed.

Work started on the £2.8m unit earlier this year.

It has been made possible by the hospital charity’s Tiny Hearts Appeal, which was launched in 2014 to raise £1m for the project and has been supported by hundreds of local fundraisers.

The appeal now stands at more than £681,000 and work to raise the total further will continue.

Steve Wragg, chairman of Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, has a personal connection to the unit.

His son, Noah, was born six weeks’ early in 2003. He stopped breathing three times and was cared for at the unit.

Mr Wragg said: “All these years later and he’s now a Yorkshire county qualified swimmer. It just shows how you can go from what looks like tragedy to success.

“The hospital is an amazing place to be part of and our staff deliver the most incredible care.

“Many of the treatments we take for granted now have been developed through massive investment and massive change. I promised this new unit to staff in 2013 and now we are about to deliver.

“I want to thank everyone who works so hard for our trust every day, from all our nurses and doctors to fundraisers and supporters to volunteers and governors.”

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