The new facilities set to improve maternity care at Leeds General Infirmary

Parents who suffer the trauma of losing their babies in childbirth will be offered greater comfort thanks to new facilities in the city’s maternity department.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 2nd February 2019, 5:00 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 4:01 pm

A new bereavement suite at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) is set to be opened after work was carried out by Ikea.

The YEP was given an exclusive look at the new suite - along with a refurbished birth unit designed to streamline the care of women in labour - at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which delivers around 10,000 babies every year.

Last year more than 100 families used the bereavement rooms at the LGI, and a similar number used the facilities at St James’ Hospital, after losing their babies to stillbirth and other complications.

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The newly-refurbished bereavement suite has two identical rooms in soft green colours, designed to create a relaxed and non-clinical environment.

Becky Musgrave, deputy head of midwifery at the trust, said: “In these rooms there is a lot of tragedy, and we can’t change that. But we wanted to make that experience as good as it can be and in a nicer environment. Previously it was very dated.

“I think it’s a really nice and calming environment. They can sit and have meals with their families.

“We have been working closely with our service users and we have patients on our bereavement steering group.”

Families are offered privacy in the bereavement suite as they come to terms with losing their babies in tragic circumstances.

Matron Vicky Brooksbank said: “The rooms can be accessed by a different entrance so bereaved families don’t have to walk through the ward.

“We care for women with all gestation periods who have unfortunately lost their babies.

“We aim to care for them all the time in this area and if they need medical input, the main unit is next door.”

Staff at Ikea have been thanked for carrying out refurbishment work after being contacted by staff on the ward.

Ms Brooksbank said: “One of our midwives contacted Ikea to see if they’d be interested in doing the refurbishment.

“They came and worked so hard and picked calming colour schemes. It doesn’t look as clinical as it used to and it feels more relaxed for people who are in a stressful and upsetting situation.

“There are sofa beds so women can have whoever they want to stay with them.

“They stay here for as long as they like. There are no time limits. The rooms do get used quite a lot, unfortunately.”

Also part of improvements to maternity services is a new Alongside Midwifery Unit (AMU).

Led by midwives and next door to the main birth centre at LGI, it is designed for births deemed low-risk which will not need a consultant present.

Ms Brooksbank added: “It was all one big ward. But by sectioning off it will be an AMU.

“It’s for women who are low risk and don’t have additional medical issues that mean we need to monitor them more intensively.”

On Tuesday, maternity services at Leeds Teaching Hospitals were praised after an annual patient survey by the Care Quality Commission, which quizzed women on their experiences of labour.

At Leeds, improvements had been made in 18 areas, including in homebirths after the number of women having their babies at home increased to an average of 19 each month.

Naomi Robinson, homebirth team Leader, said: “It’s about choice, environment, empowerment and feeling in control of what’s happening to them.

“They feel more relaxed and we often find that things like feeding go really well. There is reduced pain relief. It’s not as stressful and the environment is conducive to the body producing its own pain management.”

Among families being looked after on the maternity ward were Wasim and Tuba Salehi, both 28, of Beeston, with their baby Maher.

Mrs Salehi said: “It was really great. I love the staff here. It was really comfortable and I had a great experience.”