Hotel-style Lister maternity unit to open

A new �16.4m maternity building opens at Lister Hospital next week providing women-led care, hotel-style rooms and birthing pools.

Expectant mothers from across East and North Herts will be seen at the state-of-the-art Stevenage facility from Monday when maternity services at the QEII in Welwyn GC transfer there - bringing all maternity services in the area together on one site.

In a new way of working at the hospital, aimed at providing greater choice for women, the maternity ward is split into two units – one led by midwives, the other by consultants.

The midwife-led unit will care for women with lower risk pregnancies who, providing there are no complications, will remain in the same room until they are ready to go home within hours of the birth.

The consultant-led unit is open to all women but is specifically tailored to those with higher risk pregnancies or underlying medical conditions. Care will be provided by a midwife with consultant support.

A spokesman for the East and North Herts Trust said those mothers choosing to use the midwife-led unit have the reassurance of knowing that the consultant-led unit is in the same building should they need additional care.

The building also has three birthing pools, 16 “relaxed and homely” birthing rooms with en-suite bathrooms, dedicated obstetric theatres and recovery areas and an expanded neonatal unit for babies needing extra care, including family rooms to keep families close together while their baby is cared for.

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An early pregnancy unit will provide scans for women who may be experiencing complications, and a day assessment unit will reduce the number of women having to be admitted to hospital by referring them to their GP, midwife or consultant, the trust said.

Antenatal and outpatient care will be unaffected by the changes.

Chris Nixon, head of midwifery at the trust, said the combined units will improve women’s experience of giving birth. “We are really proud of the environment and believe that the changes will help us deliver an enhanced quality of care and birth experience to the 5,500 women we care for every year.”

Chief executive Nick Carver said the new service will rival the best in the region and even nationally in terms of quality of service and mothers’ experience. “This has been achieved through investment in facilities and the hard work of our staff. The main point today is that we are completely changing the model of care so that women have greater choice over how and where they have their babies, supported by a dedicated team.”