Plans for a new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Noble’s Hospital will move a step closer this month when Tynwald Members will be asked to vote funds not exceeding £3,520,000 for the extension to the hospital. The new unit is necessary in order to continue to provide safe, high quality and effective care and facilities for new-born babies who require specialist help, in line with the British Association of Perinatal Medicine’s guidelines.
The new Unit will match the current capacity of nine cots, but will provide more space as required by new guidelines which dictate the minimum space per cot.
Minister for Health David Anderson MHK, who is bringing the motion to Tynwald, said: “I recognise that this is a significant sum of money, and although times are more challenging in terms of finance than they once were, we must continue to invest for the future to benefit our community. Ensuring that we can provide the very best care for critically ill new-borns, and do so safely on-Island, is extremely important – especially when taking into account the relative isolation of our community. I’m sure that no one would disagree with the fact that this is a crucial project and I hope all Members will continue to give the scheme their backing, as the majority did in February.”
Tynwald voted £200,000 to fund the enabling works of the build as part of the 2013/14 Budget in February, and work commenced in June. The second tranche of funding is for the build and fit of the Unit itself which will be situated next to, and link with, the Jane Crookall Maternity Ward at Noble’s Hospital.
Member for Health Services, Dudley Butt MLC, said: “We find ourselves, as with all hospitals in the UK, having to meet the demands and challenges of advances in health care and changes to best practice. The current Neonatal Unit was designed in the mid-1990s, and a great deal has changed since that time. So it is important that, where possible, we move with the times in key areas of critical care, and take account of advances to ensure that we can strive to provide the best facilities to those who are seriously ill and require intensive support.”
Once enabling works are complete, work on the construction of the new Unit is expected to commence in late October 2013, with completion scheduled for February 2015.
Dr Prakash Thiagarajan, Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist at Noble’s Hospital, said: “The existing facilities remain absolutely safe, but in terms of best practice, things have certainly moved on from the mid-90s – practically a lifetime ago such is the speed of developments in medicine. The new Unit will enable us to maintain our current capacity of nine cots, but will provide more space per cot as well as better facilities for parents such as overnight accommodation at what can be an extremely distressing time. We’ll also be able to make improvements in the treatment of terminally-ill babies and will benefit from an enhanced floor plan layout to provide more privacy, as well as assisting in isolating babies, carrying out resuscitation, and storing vital equipment. The new Unit will also address some outstanding concerns from the 2006 Healthcare Commission Report.
“The new facility will provide the Island with a state of the art neonatal unit, one which is fit for the future and conforms to British Association of Perinatal Medicine and EU standards for neonatal care. This is a substantial investment, which we are extremely grateful for, but I think everyone would recognise the importance of facilities that meet professional standards in caring for seriously ill new-born babies and ensuring their safety.”
The total capital costs for the build – which will include all the fitting, equipment and furniture required to make it operational – will not exceed £4,090,000.