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£2.8 million for expansion of JR's Newborn Intensive Care Unit

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The Government has announced £2.8 million to double the number of cots in the John Radcliffe Hospital's Newborn Intensive Care Unit from 10 to 20.

The John Radcliffe Hospital is the designated centre providing care for the most severely ill or premature babies in the Thames Valley area.

Over the last few decades the number of babies requiring this type of care has increased, and although the unit at the John Radcliffe has expanded several times already, an extension is now needed to keep up with current demand.

A new extension to the existing Newborn Intensive Care Unit will house 16 out of the 20 intensive care cots. The cots will be introduced in phases, to match demand and allow for the appropriate recruitment and training of staff.

It is hoped that the extension will be completed by 2013. The total capital cost of the project will be approximately £5.5 million.

The John Radcliffe Hospital is one of many hospitals across England to receive a share of the £330 million Government funding . Elsewhere money has been spent on new operating theatres, emergency departments and other services, as well as new scanners and ultrasound equipment.

It is hoped that after the expansion the unit will:

  • care for all babies in the Thames Valley region born before 27 weeks' gestation;
  • improve services for babies with complex needs;
  • provide appropriate facilities for babies needing specialised care;
  • improve care for local families and babies delivered at the John Radcliffe Hospital;
  • improve privacy for families within the unit as a whole;
  • reduce the possibility of healthcare acquired infections and average length of stay;
  • reduce the number of sick babies who have to be transferred to other specialist centres.

Once sufficiently stable, babies who are not from Oxfordshire can be moved to a high-dependency cot nearer to home.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

"I want NHS patients across the Thames Valley to get the best care and treatment.

"We have saved money in central capital budgets this year, which means we can spend more money on improving NHS facilities. This will mean that more patients in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire will benefit from the latest world class equipment."

Dr Eleri Adams, Consultant Neonatologist and Director of the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, said:

"We really welcome this money towards our expansion project for our Newborn Intensive Care Unit. The money will be invaluable in helping us to achieve our goal of providing enough intensive care cots here to treat babies and their mothers nearer to home with the best possible care."

Julie da Silva Moore from SSNAP (Support for the Sick Newborn and their Parents, a charity dedicated to supporting parents and their babies at the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital), said:

"We are really pleased to hear about this funding. We know how much this expansion is needed, and how much it means for parents not to have to be too far away from home when they have a newborn baby in intensive care.

"It is a worrying time, and parents need to be able to have the support of friends and family and to be near to their babies."