News story

Hospitals share in funding to improve birthing environments

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A share of a £25 million fund to improve the birthing environments in more than 100 hospitals was announced today.

The money will go towards a wide range of projects and several older maternity hospitals will be refurbished.  There will also be funding for a large number of simple measures that improve choice for women and their experience of maternity care.

Across the country, the improvements will include:

  • almost 40 new birthing pool, which can help make labour less stressful and painful
  • eight new midwife led units, which are less clinical and more relaxing places to give birth
  • more en suite facilities in over 40 maternity units providing more dignity and privacy for women
  • more equipment like beds and family rooms in almost 50 units that allow dads and families to stay overnight and support women while in labour or if their baby needs neonatal care
  • better bereavement spaces at nearly 20 hospitals to support bereaved families after a tragic event such as a stillborn baby.

Other improvements include equipment that gives women more freedom to move around and change position while in labour and facilities that allow women to choose if they want a bath or shower.

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said:

A new arrival in the family is a joyous time but it can present a real challenge for mums and families, particularly those experiencing it for the first time.

We are now going to see huge improvements to maternity services right across the country from birthing pools to family rooms and even new midwifery led units. These will make a big difference to the experience mums and families have of NHS maternity services, with more choice and a better environment where women can give birth.

Maternity units have had to show evidence that they asked mums and dads about what changes they need to make so we know these are the changes local people really want to see.

In November, the government opened the £25 million fund to applications from local NHS trusts and foundation trusts. Applications for funding have only been approved where there was evidence that local mums and dads wanted the changes. Bids were judged by a panel that included representatives from the Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Read our press release 100 Hospitals to take part in £25 million maternity unit makeover