Adam Gretton, Health correspondent
Monday, July 15, 2013
Bosses at Norfolk’s busiest maternity unit said staff were working hard to minimise disruption, despite the closure of its delivery suite for a major refurbishment.
The delivery suite at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital was shut last month for works to increase the number of birthing rooms to help cope with the county’s rising birthrate.
The refurbishment has led to midwives relocating to the Cley Ward where women are supposed to give birth in single rooms. However, one baby was born on a general ward last weekend, hospital bosses admitted.
One new father, who declined to be named, said his wife was due to be induced for labour last Wednesday, but was postponed until last Saturday because the makeshift birthing rooms were full. He added that the noises of women in active labour on general wards had caused added distress for his wife.
“The midwives were brilliant, but they are under so much pressure at the moment. We knew the delivery suite was being refurbished, but I do not think the hospital trust gave it a lot of thought,” he said.
The delivery suite at the NNUH is set to be shut until September 21 as part of the work after the NHS trust received £272,000 from the government to improve maternity services earlier this year.
Under the refurbishment, the number of delivery rooms will be increased from 12 to 15 and six extra bathrooms will be added so that all birthing rooms will have en-suite facilities.
Head of midwifery Glynis Moore, said all pregnant women have been informed about the work and the hospital has had to restrict visiting to just partners, parents and the patient’s own children and pregnant women are being told to bring just one birthing partner.
“Our staff have been amazing and have coped well with the disruption that is necessary whilst the refurbishment is taking place. Everyone is looking forward to working in the new facilities when they are completed.”
“We have informed all our pregnant women about the refurbishment and we apologise for any inconvenience the refurbishment may cause our patients and their families,” she said.
The modernisation will result in en-suite facilities in all delivery suite rooms and the creation of three new birthing rooms which will help the hospital to manage an increasing birth rate in the future.
A spokesman for the hospital said: “We are caring for women in the antenatal section of Cley ward who may be in early labour. On occasion, labour can progress more quickly than anticipated and our priority is always the safety of our patients and their babies. Over the weekend, one patient gave birth in the ward area before she could be transferred to the delivery room.”
Cley Ward is catering for antenatal inpatients and women during labour and birth and the Blakeney Ward remains as the postnatal ward. Gynaecology patients have been moved to the Gunthorpe Ward.
The midwifery-led birthing unit is unaffected by the changes.
Last year, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital saw 6,352 births, compared with the 4,929 births it received in 2003.