Published on: 22 November 2023

Work has started to revamp a Neonatal Unit and offer better facilities for families as they stay close during their baby’s stay.

The work has begun at Sunderland Royal Hospital where the department sits alongside its Maternity services.

More than £900,000 in total will be spent on the project. 

It will involve work inside the unit to create improved spaces for the babies and those who care for them.

Meanwhile, accommodation for families to stay on the hospital site will be developed nearby. 

Emily Cameron, the unit’s manager, said:

"We want to make sure we not only offer our babies the best possible facilities, but their families have everything they need too. 

"We want their parents and carers to be here as much as they can be and make it a good experience during what can be a very emotional time.

"They need a place where they can rest and relax. We also know being close by is important to them. Some families come to us from across the region, so the new accommodation will be a huge help and it’ll also offer space for siblings to stay too.

"The changes on the unit will also make a difference and offer parents and carers a nicer place to be while they’re spending time with their baby.

"The designs have been drawn up with the help of staff and visitors, so their feedback has helped shaped the improvements. We know our team are excited to see the unit get an update fit for the future."

Within the unit, a room will be revamped to turn a three-cot room into a space where five babies will be looked after.

This three-cot bay will be able to care for five babies under the plans for Sunderland Royal Hospital's Neonatal Unit..JPG

This three-cot bay will be able to care for five babies under the plans for Sunderland Royal Hospital's Neonatal Unit.

A new, bigger, breastmilk expressing room will be fitted out with that purpose in mind, replacing the smaller room used at the moment.

Two bedrooms with space for two adults to rest as well as room for their baby and ensuite facilities will be set up within the ward.

These will be fitted with equipment needed to support their newborn and will also help when parents and carers are getting ready to head home. The rooms will replace two already in use which are in need of an update.

A better family room will be set up, with the open plan area to include a kitchen. 

A new quiet room will be created, giving parents a place to go when they need some time alone, while a clinic space will be made available.

Over in the nearby Trust Headquarters, accommodation space will be revamped. Three double bedrooms with an adjacent living space and a bed for a sibling will be set up. A forth room will have double bed and an ensuite bathroom.

A laundry room and kitchen will also be available, helping those who spend much of their time on site stay close to their baby without the need to return home more regularly.

The Neonatal Unit is also progressing on its journey to gaining the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative.

This aims to better support families with feeding and developing close and loving relationships so that all babies get the best possible start in life.

It is now on the second stage of the programme, which involves training for staff.

Anyone who would like to support the Neonatal Unit via the Trust’s STS Charity can click here