Hospitals across England will share a £25m fund aimed at improving and upgrading maternity units.
More than 100 hospitals will receive cash from moneypot announced today by Health Minister, Dr Dan Poulter.
The money will go towards a wide range of projects, with several older maternity hospitals being refurbished, including the 1970s unit at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust and one at Taunton and Somerset, which dates back as far as the 1940s. There will also be funding for a large number of simple measures that improve choice for women and their overall experience of maternity care. Across the country, the improvements will include:
- Almost 40 new birthing pools, which can help make labour less stressful and painful
- Eight new midwife-led birthing units, which are less clinical and more relaxing places to give birth
- More en-suite facilities in 40 maternity units, providing more dignity and privacy for women who will no longer have to walk through the unit to use the bathroom
- More equipment like beds and family rooms in almost 50 units that allow fathers and families to stay overnight and support women while in labour or if their baby needs neonatal care
- Better bereavement facilities at nearly 20 hospitals to support families after a tragic event such as a stillborn baby
Other improvements include equipment that gives women more freedom to move around and change position while in labour and facilities that allow women to choose if they want a bath or shower.
Dr Poulter, said: “A new arrival in the family is a joyous time, but it can present a real challenge for mums and families, particularly those experiencing it for the first time.
NHS maternity services already deliver high quality care for thousands of women every day, but we know there is more that can be done to improve mothers’ experience and to make the choices and standards of care more consistent across the country
“We are now going to see huge improvements to maternity services right across the country – from birthing pools to family rooms and even new midwifery-led units. These will make a big difference to the experience mums and families have of NHS maternity services, with more choice and a better environment where women can give birth.
“Maternity units have had to show evidence that they asked mums and dads about what changes they need to make, so we know these are the changes local people really want to see.”
The cash is being handed out after the Government invited funding requests from hospitals back in November. Applications have only been approved where there was evidence that local mothers and fathers wanted the changes and bids were judged by a panel that included representatives from the Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
The Royal College of Midwives’ chief executive, Cathy Warwick, said: “This will pay for dozens of new birthing pools, eight new midwife-led units, more en-suite facilities in dozens of units, and lots more besides. It is great to learn about the positive changes that this extra £25m will make to many units up and down the country.
“NHS maternity services already deliver high quality care for thousands of women every day, but we know there is more that can be done to improve mothers’ experience and to make the choices and standards of care more consistent across the country.”