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'Overcrowded' maternity ward at new PFI hospital.

A new privately funded hospital - built by the construction company set to revamp the new Newcastle Hospitals - has been criticised for overcrowded maternity facilities.

Shawn Walker, chairman of the maternity services liaison committee at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital believes attempts to improve the hospital's birthing environment have been hampered by overcrowding and a shortage of labour rooms.

She said: "The new hospital presents an ideal opportunity to show how state of the art facilities could be complemented by common sense to better suit women's needs

"But attempts to improve the birthing environment are compromised by a serious overcrowding problem due to a shortage of labour rooms.

"Some women have to give birth in the ante-natal ward with only a thin sheet between them and their neighbours. That is not the ideal environment."

A spokeswoman for the hospital said the new facilities have one less labour room but in addition they have a birthing pool suite.

She said: "In the past year 4,500 women have given birth at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. On the rare occasions that women have given birth on the ante-natal ward, this is due to the fact that the onset of delivery was so quick that it is not physically possible or safe to move them. When this happens every effort is made to ensure that they are given as much privacy as possible and we have not received any complaints regarding this. This situation is also no different from any other unit around the country."

The criticism follows the opening of a 36-bed ward earlier this year, following bed shortages.

The hospital, which opened in 2001, now has 989 beds compared to 952 at the hospital's former city site.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 25, 2003
Words:288
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