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Nottingham University Hospitals’ run Queen’s Medical Centre Nottingham to expand neonatal, created 21 extra spaces for poorly babies





A major plan to expand the neonatal unit at Queen’s Medical Centre will involve more than 100 new staff and bring 21 new spaces for babies that need lifesaving care.

The £32.5m plan to increase the number of neonatal cots at the hospital from 17 to 38 is expected to be complete by December 2024.

It is hoped the expansion will reduce the need to transfer some babies out of the area when cots in Nottingham are full.

NHS Nottingham Queen's Medical Centre Neonatal plans. Credit: Local Democracy Reporting Service.
NHS Nottingham Queen's Medical Centre Neonatal plans. Credit: Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Construction work has started and in the meantime, 12 premature babies have been transferred into a new temporary unit at the hospital.

The scheme, called the Maternity and Neonatal Redesign (MNR) programme, was first discussed in the early 2000s.

Jenni Twinn, programme director, said it was “amazing” to meet the milestone of work starting.

Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) is the main neonatal intensive care service for the region, caring for around 1,000 babies and their families each year at the QMC and at City Hospital.

Jenni Twinn, programme director, and Lleona Lee, the clinical lead.
Jenni Twinn, programme director, and Lleona Lee, the clinical lead.

But Lleona Lee, the clinical lead for the programme, said some babies have to be transferred out of Nottingham and sometimes beyond the East Midlands due to the shortage in intensive care cots.

The plans also include dedicated areas for parents including bedrooms, a bereavement suite, a play area and kitchen for families.

Around 8,500 babies are born across Nottingham University Hospitals Trust (which runs the QMC and City Hospital) every year and the changes will affect around 250 of those babies.

NHS Nottingham Queen's Medical Centre Neonatal plans. Credit: Local Democracy Reporting Service.
NHS Nottingham Queen's Medical Centre Neonatal plans. Credit: Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Lleona Lee, consultant at NUH and clinical lead for the MNR told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We’ve successfully moved our 12 babies from our old unit into the space we’re sitting in now.

“We moved in September 2023. We had one day which was carefully planned and successfully moved all of our babies.

“Each baby came with its own transport team and its own incubator. Families could choose to walk with their babies if they wanted to.

“The next phase is to build our new unit and to hopefully open in December 2024.

“We often run at full capacity and that’s why there’s a great clinical need for us to expand our cots. We are too often in a situation where we can’t say yes to our next admission.

“The extra cots will make a huge difference for families and staff.”

Neonatal unit construction. Credit: Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Neonatal unit construction. Credit: Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Dr Lee said at times, babies have to be transferred out of Nottingham and even the East Midlands due to capacity issues at QMC.

She said: “When it happens, it’s a very difficult and heartbreaking conversation.

“We only do it when we absolutely have to. We try wherever possible to move babies with their mothers but we may end up splitting up families. We try our hardest to get families back into Nottingham as soon as we can.”

Jenni Twinn, programme director for MNR added that the original space was “very small” for staff and families.

She said: “Privacy and dignity was a huge challenge. Families would perhaps be receiving bad news or having a difficult conversation literally side by side with another family.

“It was quite dark and we didn’t have very much natural light. We had lots of equipment in the corridor.

“We are building the new unit within the walls of QMC so it is challenging.

“We had lots of offices and small spaces, we are knocking that down to create an open plan space with lots of natural light.”

NHS Nottingham Queen's Medical Centre Neonatal plans. Credit: Local Democracy Reporting Service.
NHS Nottingham Queen's Medical Centre Neonatal plans. Credit: Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Speaking about the work which has gone into the MNR, Ms Twinn added: “It has been talked about for so long and there has been a lot of hard work and challenges.

“For the families and staff to eventually have the new unit at the end of the year is such an achievement for us as a trust. It’s amazing.”

The project is jointly funded by NHS England and NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care Board (ICB).

NUH also funded the temporary move, which cost £2m.



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