Leeds hospital unit will provide integrated care for mothers and their babies in a purpose-built environment
An artist's impression of the entrance to the new maternity centre
The largest single-site maternity unit in the UK is being planned in Leeds as part of the development of two new hospitals on the Leeds General Infirmary site.
The centre, which will link the planned new Leeds Children’s Hospital and new hospital for adults, will have the capacity to deliver up to 10,500 babies a year and will provide care for mothers and their babies from across Yorkshire and the North of England.
Centralising services will also bring about safer care for mothers and their babies by providing specialist services and facilities under one roof. These are currently delivered across two sites at St James’s Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary.
Currently, the teams need to transfer babies the 1.5 miles between sites when they need specialist care, separating families and using up staff time and resources.
Keeping families together is a key benefit of the plan and will mean more staff are free to deliver clinical care for patients.
The new hospitals, planned in a single building at Leeds General Infirmary, are currently being designed, with building work expected to be commence in 2024 and completion planned between 2026-2028 as part of the Government’s New Hospitals Programme commitment to deliver 40 new hospitals by 2030.
Dr Kelly Cohen, clinical director for women’s services at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said the new maternity centre would ‘overnight’ provide a better experience for patients and staff.
“We will be able to provide integrated family care like we have never been able to do before, which is a key part of the new hospital design,” she added.
“Mums and dads will be able to look after their babies with the neonatal teams there to support and help them.”
The building has been designed to provide a more-intimate and less-clinical environment for patients and their families
The new centre will provide the following benefits:
Many of the babies born in Leeds need specialist care after birth. And, being linked so closely to the new children’s hospital ensures families receive seamless care from pregnancy, birth, and into childhood and adulthood, all in the same place.
For post-natal patients there will be spacious maternity wards, with en-suite single rooms and space for partners to stay.
Dr Cohen said: “It means that parents will be starting or growing their family life in their own private space, which is great for infection control, but also means they can get to bond with their new baby in a private room with their own bathroom.”
Monica Saikia, a solicitor from Scarcroft, Leeds, was one of those expectant mothers who had to be transferred from St James’ Hospital when she was admitted at 20 weeks and 23 weeks due to complications.
As there were no neonatal intensive care cots available at Leeds General Infirmary she said it was a waiting game to see where she would be transferred to.
“In the interim, all we could do was hope and pray that our daughter did not arrive until such time as we knew which hospital could accommodate her,” she said.“Eliminating the need to move between hospitals will no doubt be a welcomed move for all expectant mothers and I certainly would have preferred this.
“Having a child is a stressful situation and by having all services under one roof, it will inevitably reduce the level of anxiety for expectant mothers.”
The design of the maternity centre has not only came about via feedback from the public consultation carried out in 2019-20, but also via patient groups like the Maternity Voices Partnership.
Their main driving force has been on increasing the chances of good outcomes for mothers and families with patients controlling their own environment and privacy.
Aneira Thomas, chairman of the Leeds Maternity Voices Partnership, said: “Removing the need to transfer expectant mothers between St James’s Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary if they encounter a problem is going to be a good thing.
“Not everyone likes change, and there has been some apprehension about things like parking on the new hospital site, but having all the expertise in one centre is seen as a real benefit.”