Whipps Cross Hospital Women’s and Neonatal Unit receives major upgrade - Barts Charity

Whipps Cross Hospital Women’s and Neonatal Unit receives major upgrade

In 2018, we gave £6.8 million to modernise and expand the unit, creating a physical environment to match the high standard of care on offer.

  • Date: March 3, 2023

A well-deserved upgrade

The Women’s and Neonatal Unit at Whipps Cross Hospital hadn’t been updated for almost 50 years. It was described as “cramped” and “ageing” by some mums, with many choosing to give birth elsewhere after visiting the hospital early in their pregnancy.

It’s estimated that it will improve the experience of 5,000 women and families who are expected to use it each year. Seven wards have been refurbished to include new clinical areas, birthing suites, extra room for partners to stay overnight, privacy rooms and dedicated space for researchers. One mum says: “I had an amazing birthing experience. I wasn’t expecting the birth centre to include everything from starry lights to a double bed. It’s just ‘wow!’”

Caring for more babies

One of the wards that was refurbished was the Neonatal Unit (NNU) which cares for some of the most vulnerable and premature babies and their parents. Thanks to a gift of £50,000 from the Garfield Weston Foundation, we were able to update this unit which was struggling to cope with increased demand from the growing number of patients.

Staff in the new NNU are now caring for nearly half (47%) as many more babies as they were before the unit was refurbished. The unit now has reclining chairs next to the cots for parents, as well as double ensuite bedrooms, kitchen and shower facilities. The modernised layout has also allowed staff to run a community nursery to re-admit families whose babies have feeding problems or jaundice in the first weeks of life. There has already been a huge demand for this unit in the community.

“We have great facilities for involving parents in the care of their babies and have made it really easy for parents to stay around the clock. Now, some families stay for the entire admission. It’s impossible to compare the new improved unit with the old one.”
Christine Fogarty, Matron, Neonatal Unit, Whipps Cross Hospital

A positive experience

Hannah says: “I brought Dylan, my one-week-year-old son, to Whipps Cross Hospital in January as he had a bacterial skin infection. I came into A&E and I was seen immediately by the clinical receptionist, who was very reassuring.

I barely had to wait at all before being called in to meet the paediatric nurse, who was incredibly kind. Then a lovely young nurse walked me over to the paediatrics porter cabin. I was very quickly seen by a doctor and a consultant who told me he had to be kept in for intravenous antibiotics.

The doctor went out of his way to calm me down, and the consultant really took the time to help advise. This whole process only took a few hours and I felt incredibly cared for and supported throughout.

As you can imagine, I was very worried and panicked, so this efficient process made it a lot less stressful. The nurses in the porter cabin even made me tea and kept checking up on me. I also had private space to breastfeed.

We were then given a private room in Acorn ward and over the next three nights we were really well cared for. Each nurse was absolutely lovely, warm and caring. They were all very gentle with my son and very discrete when they came in.

I was really pleasantly surprised by the efficiency and friendliness of staff and processes. What could have been an incredibly scary and negative experience was actually quite positive – particularly now that I know my son is so much better. All the advice and tips from nurses throughout also helped me to mother my son and ensure I’m caring for him the right way.”