Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) is the main neonatal intensive care service for the region, caring for around 1,000 babies and their families annually at the QMC and Nottingham City Hospital. Currently, the service has to transfer babies out of Nottingham to other hospitals each week, sometimes beyond the East Midlands, since there are insufficient intensive care cots to meet demand. Similarly, Nottingham is not able to accept the babies from the region for whom the Trust should provide intensive care.
In a project jointly funded by NHS England and NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care Board (ICB), The Maternity and Neonatal Redesign Programme at NUH will see the QMC Neonatal Unit increase the number of intensive, high-dependency, and special care cots from 17 to 38. Enabling works have taken place to allow for construction to expand the unit to begin. These have seen the Paediatric Surgical Unit within Nottingham Children’s Hospital transformed into a temporary Neonatal Unit while construction work to expand the unit is undertaken.
The move of the neonatal unit to its temporary home has successfully taken place, and construction work on the expanded unit will now begin. The aim is for the new, expanded facility to be completed by the end of this year.
Jenni Twinn, Programme director for MNR said: “It’s exciting that we’re now entering the construction phase of such an important and much-needed project. The neonatal unit expansion will enable us to accept more babies from Nottingham and the East Midlands who need our care, rather than having to transfer them to another hospital, which often results in families being a long way from their support networks, and in extreme circumstances – when we have no capacity – can lead to the potential separating of twins and triplets.
“In addition, it will greatly improve the environment for families by giving them more privacy whilst they are staying on the unit, and our staff will be working in a brand new, state-of-the-art facility. In turn, this will all lead to an improved experience for our families and staff on the unit.”
Following relocation back to the new expanded unit at QMC, the Neonatal Unit at City Hospital will become a ‘Local Neonatal Unit’, where babies can continue to receive high- dependency and special care, and be managed in intensive care for up to 48 hours, before being transferred to the QMC for longer-term care where needed.
In addition to the Maternity and Neonatal Redesign programme, as part of its Big Appeal, Nottingham Hospitals Charity will be funding several enhancements for the new unit. These include specialist training areas, equipment and improvements to make the whole environment, and particularly the family areas and parent accommodation, as welcoming as possible while their premature babies are being cared for.