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Stitch in time saves money for baby unit.

Byline: By Julie Cush

A North East hospital is saving money by recycling theatre gowns to make baby clothes.

More than 1,700 babies are born at North Tyneside Hospital maternity unit every year and the bill to dress the new-borns used to run into several thousands of pounds a year.

But now the cost to clad a baby is just a few pence thanks to the bright idea of head of laundry and sewing Gwen Gribble and her staff. They transform ripped patients' gowns in blue and pink into tiny baby clothes and can make as many as 90 in a week.

The scheme has been running for three years and has saved the unit pounds 10,000 which has been spent on equipment.

And it has proved so popular the team of sewers are also using old bed sheets to make curtains for the maternity and children's wards.

Gwen said: "A baby gown costs about pounds 1.50, but we use so many the cost used to mount up.

"We came up with the idea of recycling little used items to make sure we had a plentiful supply of baby clothes. Theatre gowns are made of very soft cotton which is an ideal fabric for babies, also they cannot be used once they are ripped or torn and this way we get more wear out of them."

It only takes the staff 10 minutes to make a baby gown from a pattern. From the money saved the maternity unit has invested in a new machine to treat jaundiced babies, equipment for the kitchen and breast pumps.

Head of Midwifery Janice McNichol said: "You can't tell the difference between the hand-made clothes and the supplied ones, they are so good. It also gives a personal touch and staff really enjoy making them."

A Northumbria Healthcare Trust spokeswoman said: "Sewing and linen room staff are some of the unsung heroes of the NHS."
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 13, 2004
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