[B]uilding work on the brand new £12m Maternity Unit at Furness General Hospital (FGH) is nearing completion – just over 12 months on from when the first digger arrived on site in September 2016.
The new two floor maternity unit measures in at an impressive 2,553 square metres – 85% bigger than the current unit. It is made up of 14 en-suite birthing rooms with facilities for partners to stay over, two dedicated operating theatres, a Special Care Baby Unit, Maternity Assessment, a skills lab for staff training, and a Bereavement Suite.
Sascha Wells, Director of Midwifery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), said: “When we announced the start of the building work last year, we knew what a big difference this would make to the local community and our staff, and as a team, we are so excited at how it has come together so quickly.
“One of the most important things for us is that staff and those that use our services were involved from the very start of planning so we know that the completed unit will meet their needs and wishes and help us to provide services that local people can be proud of.”
Work is progressing well on the build. In the last few months, the following has been completed:
- Completed all the ceilings, walls, drainage works and plastering
- Built two link corridors into the existing Ward 1 and Antenatal clinic to allow direct access
- Installed the lifts and staircase
- Fitted flooring to the majority of the unit
- Installed the windows
- Completed all the mechanical electrical work
The next stages of the build will include:
- Installing the furniture and equipment
- Paving and tarmac
- Deep clean of the unit
Sascha, continued: “Our teams have worked extremely hard to continue to improve the maternity services we provide to local families, and I believe the element that has made the most difference is the partnerships we have developed with local mums, dads, partners and families. Their input and ideas have allowed us to make changes that make sure the services we offer are the ones that they want and need, and that they are delivered to the high quality standard that that deserve.
“When the Morecambe Bay Investigation was published in March 2015, we made a commitment to the public that we would fully implement all of the 18 recommendations for our Trust, and the completion of this new unit will mean that we have met all of the recommendations in full. More importantly, we hope it helps shows those that lost loved ones in the past and local communities that we have listened and we have changed but that we will always strive to be better.
“As a Trust, we are very excited for the building work to finish and for us to officially open the unit to women and families. We are still on track and expect the unit to be handed over to the Trust by the end of December 2017. Maternity services will continue to be delivered out of the current unit until the new unit is opened to women and families in early 2018.
“There will be lots of opportunities for the public and our partners to get involved and have a look around the new unit before it is opened, and we are planning a big official opening celebration event. We’ll share more details of these as soon as we have them.”
The public can get involved in helping the Trust makes sure the new unit is the best it can be via the Bayb’s Maternity Appeal – launched in February 2017 to raise £250,000 to fund “extras” for the new unit. These ”extras”, such as additional birthing pools, smart TVs for the birthing rooms, and birthing aids, fall outside the remit of what the NHS is able to fund but have been added to a shopping list of items to give the unit a real home from home feel.
The appeal, led by Bay Hospitals Charity, has really captured the hearts of the Barrow area community, and thanks to hard work and generosity of local people, charitable organisations and trusts, plus legacies, a fantastic £154,476 has been raised so far!
Some of the achievements to date include:
- £5,000 raised by a sell-out spring dance at Hawcoat Park Social Club
- Approximately £5,000 from a fully subscribed sponsored walk to Piel Island
- Pupils from St Paul’s CE Junior School in Barrow, raised over £1,000 by taking part in a sponsored “Big Push” around the school playing field
- MedEquip4Kids gave more £28,000 to fund resuscitaires – equipment for babies who need extra help breathing when first born
- Furness Lions donated £5,000
- HEFF donated £16,500 to fund three new birthing pools for the new unit
- Fundraising teams taking part in the Keswick to Barrow Walk and Tour De Furness
Local businesses have also backed the Bayb’s Appeal with companies such as Bender UK Ltd, JH Homes, Furness Plastics, Barrow’s indoor market traders and the local branch of NatWest getting behind the fundraising effort. Local supermarkets have also agreed to store collections, whilst Sellafield Ltd, which has its own charitable trust, has pledged money.
Lots more is planned for the remainder of 2017 and into 2018! For more information on the Bayb’s Appeal and how you can get involved, visit: http://www.bayhospitalscharity.org/our-appeals-2-2/.
Sue Smith, Executive Chief Nurse, UHMBT, said: “We hope that this new Maternity Unit signals new beginnings for the people of Barrow and surrounding areas. We will never forget the past and are committed to ensuring that what happened is at the forefront of everything we do to be the best we possibly can be.
“On behalf of the Trust, I’d like to thank all those that have been involved in the design and development of the new unit. It truly belongs to staff and the local community, and we look forward to welcoming the first baby born there early next year!”
For more information on the new unit can be found at: https://www.uhmb.nhs.uk/hospitals/furness-general-hospital/your-new-maternity-unit/.