Tuesday 23 July 2024
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Pictures show expansion plans for Nottingham QMC Neonatal Unit

Exciting plans to provide an additional 21 neonatal cots at the Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Nottingham have taken another step towards becoming a reality as construction work has officially commenced.

Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) is the main neonatal intensive care service for the region, caring for around 1,000 babies and their families each year at the QMC and at 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 not enough intensive care cots to meet demand. Similarly, Nottingham is not able to accept the babies from the region for whom we should provide intensive care.


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.

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The project is jointly funded by NHS England and NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care Board (ICB) and a series of enabling works have taken place to allow for construction to expand the unit to begin.


These enabling works 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 carried out.


The move of the neonatal unit to their 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 2024.

Jenni Twinn, Programme Director for MNR said:

“It is 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.”

Lleona Lee, Consultant at NUH and Clinical Lead for the MNR added:

“The Nottingham Neonatal Service strives to provide the best care to babies and their families and now that construction is underway we are taking a significant step forward in being able to achieve this on our new, expanded unit.

“I’d like to thank all our wonderful staff, within and outside the neonatal service, who have supported us to make this project happen, as well as the families with babies on our decanted QMC neonatal unit who continue to be patient with us during this time.”

Baby India Wood was an inpatient on the Neonatal Unit ahead of its relocation to its temporary home in East Block.

India, had been an inpatient on the old QMC Neonatal Unit since her birth in May 2023. India was born prematurely at just 26 weeks, weighing only 530g – the equivalent of a bag of sugar.
New parents Will and Amy Wood, who live in Lincoln, explained that India’s birth had been very stressful as this was their first baby and they had no previous experience of neonatal care. The couple were transferred to the QMC for India’s birth as neonatal units in Lincolnshire do not accept babies born under 28 weeks gestation and could not carry out the surgery she needed.

Will said: “Initially the environment was scary, the space, the noise and the amount of doctors and nurses was all a bit of a shock.

“However, we quickly became used to the surroundings and it began to feel like a second home where we felt as comfortable as we could be given the circumstances.”

At just 26 days old, India underwent vital surgery which revealed that she had a medical condition called Ileal Atresia – where there is a blockage in the small intestine preventing milk from passing through, causing severe pain. The tiny baby was fitted with a stoma bag, which was then removed and her intestines connected back together once India was bigger and stronger.

India was on the Neonatal Unit at the time of the move to its new temporary home, and the MNR programme team visited parents on the ward to explain the plans for the relocation.
Will said: “We were fine about being moved to the new, temporary unit – I think due to the numerous times India had been transported for surgery and scans, it did not bother us.
“When visiting the new unit prior to the move we were not sure about the layout, but after moving we actually preferred it, mainly due to the additional space we had.”

India was just 16 weeks old on the day of the decant. After months of planning, all 12 babies were individually transferred in their incubators with teams made up of neonatal nurses, doctors and support staff.

A carefully-planned route had been organised to keep babies safe at all times and so any emergencies could be dealt with swiftly. Parents were also invited to walk alongside their babies on their journey if they wished.

Will said: “We found the move to be very professional and smooth. We especially liked the fact that the corridors were shut off from the public as the babies were moved through, which made the journey quicker and easier.”

After 141 days in neonatal care, India is now at home with her parents who are looking forward to the New Year as a family of three.

Reflecting on their time at NUH, Will and Amy said: “We spent about 20 weeks at the QMC. The nurses and family care team there were fantastic and very supportive, and the friendships we made along the way were a massive help.

“We would like to thank the whole team for everything they did.

“We have loved every minute of having India at home with us and although there are ups and downs due to her complex condition, it is magical to watch her reach milestones and to see her personality developing.”

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, a small number of specialist deliveries of those who are anticipated to need surgical care and of those who are the most preterm, will be planned to take place at QMC. This will be on a case by case basis, following national recommendations, to enable the best outcomes for our most vulnerable babies. All such cases will be discussed with the families during midwife and consultant reviews.

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 in the unit.

Nottingham Hospitals Charity recently launched the next phase of its Big Appeal where they aim to raise £1.5million for Nottingham Children’s Hospital over the next three years.

People across the East Midlands can support the Big Appeal by making a donation, taking part in one of Nottingham Hospitals Charity’s fundraising events, holding their own event, or pledging a gift in their will. To find out more about the Big Appeal or to make a donation, please visit www.nottinghamhospitalscharity.org.uk/bigappeal.

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