‘A superb start to the New Year’ was the sentiment echoed by maternity and neonatal unit staff as they welcomed news of funding from the Department of Health that will see plans for the redevelopment of facilities at the Princess Alexandra Wing go ahead.
The Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust is to receive a £3.6 million loan to upgrade and reconfigure facilities in the Princess Alexandra Wing, including the creation of a new midwifery-led birthing unit.
Divisional Nurse and Head of Midwifery Jan Walters said, “This is really exciting news for us and for local parents. For a long time we’ve been working on plans to create facilities that will complement the high standards of care our midwifery and neonatal teams aspire to deliver. It’s terrific to see all this work finally coming to fruition and in particular the addition of the birthing unit.”
The birth rate in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has risen by over 20% in the last 14 years with the majority of the 4,500 babies being born at the Princess Alexandra Wing. Around 12% of all newborns will also be admitted to the Neonatal Unit with admissions having risen from around 400 each year to almost 600 over the same period.
Today the maternity and neonatal teams offer local access to many services that were either non-existent or for which parents had to travel long distances when the units were built. The redevelopment scheme will involve moving the post-natal Wheal Fortune Ward to enable relocation and expansion of the neonatal unit and creation of a midwifery-led birthing unit in the vacated space.
Jan adds, “The birthing unit will offer the modern facilities parents have been asking us for such as birthing pools and a more homely environment whilst still being in close proximity to more specialist care should they need it.”
Neonatal care specialist, Consultant Dr Andrew Collinson said, “Over the last decade we have seen massive steps forward in treatments and technology which help us to care for newborns needing specialist support which we had to fit into facilities which were designed for a very different style of care. The redevelopment will have a significant impact on our desire to provide truly outstanding care with much improved access, privacy and dignity in a far more family centred environment.”
Work is due to start in the Spring and plans are now being made to launch a public appeal to support finishing and equipping the new facilities to the highest standards.