£750,000 for midwife units

Improvements: A new midwifery-led unit will be set up at Royal Preston Hospital

Improvements: A new midwifery-led unit will be set up at Royal Preston Hospital

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A £750,000 Government windfall is set to improve birthing facilities at hospitals in Preston and 

The cash, announced as part of a programme to improve maternity facilities across the country, will see a new midwifery-led unit being established at Royal Preston Hospital under the first wave of improvements.

Health bosses say these units are less clinical and more relaxing places to give birth.

Existing birth centre facilities at Chorley District Hospital will also be improved, with plans to put in en-suite accommodation in both birth centres, facilities to enable partners to stay overnight, and installing new birthing pools.

Sue Reed, Nursing Director at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “This substantial investment is great news for women, partners and babies in Chorley and Preston, and will enable us to improve the birth environment in both hospitals, and give women greater choice.”

“Midwifery-led care, provided in a birth centre, can provide mums who have uncomplicated pregnancies and labour with a better experience in a more relaxed environment.

“We are delighted to be able to offer local mums a full range of birth options, in a modern, comfortable, purpose-built environment.”

The funding was announced by Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter as part of a £25m fund.

Lancashire Teaching Foundation Trust bid for the cash last year and said the changes were needed locally.

It comes after fears were raised that dwindling numbers at Chorley Hospital could mean the eventual closure of the unit.

Gill Harris, chief nurse for NHS North of England, said: “A woman’s birthing experience, the environment she gives birth in and the first few hours and days spent with her new baby and her family are of critical importance.

“We listened when women told us what really mattered to them in terms of their birth environment.

“For example, facilities which meant their partners could spend a longer period of time with them in the very early stages of labour, and an environment which was comfortable, welcoming, homely and afforded them privacy and dignity. These projects will be completed in the next few months and will continue to help us deliver our pledge of improved experiences and additional choices for women and their families over the coming years.”

Making the announcement, 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.

“We are now going to see huge improvements to maternity services right across the country.

“From birthing pools to family rooms and even eight new midwifery-led units.

“These will make a big difference to the experience mums and families have of NHS maternity services.”