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Families benefit from maternity ward upgrade

Rachel Coombs and Jordan McCarthy

Reception Area

Captions:1 Parents Rachael Coombs and Jordan McCarthy of Clacton, with their son, Ewan, born yesterday (Wed) at 2.30am, are pictured in a refurbished side room on Lexden Ward. Mr McCarthy is resting on one of the ward’s 12 new reclining chairs.

2. The refurbishment has included creating a reception and a new base for midwives.

8 September 2017

The maternity ward at Colchester General Hospital has reopened following the completion of a seven-week refurbishment programme costing £438,000.

It has been the most significant investment on Lexden Ward, which is located on the first floor of Constable Wing, since it opened 20 years ago.

Faye Buckfield, one of the ward's sisters, said the refurbishment has created a warm and welcoming environment. The ward now feels less clinical and more spacious, and has a different ambience.

“Improvements had been made on an ad hoc basis over the years but the ward was beginning to look tired and in need of some TLC,” she said. “For example, even though we've always prided ourselves on our cleanliness, the flooring was starting to look worn and grubby.

“It's been an extensive refurbishment and has created a much more homely environment which is really important when you remember that our women are not patients in the sense that the majority of them are not ill.

“I'm confident that the installation of air-conditioning in the bays and side rooms will be welcomed by women, partners and staff alike because it could get uncomfortably hot in exceptionally warm weather.”

Ms Buckfield also thanked the Colchester League of Hospital and Community Friends which provided £11,355.60p, most of which was spent on 12 reclining chairs so that partners can stay on the ward overnight and share the experience of becoming a new family. Previously, new dads had to try to sleep in an upright chair.

The rest of the League of Friends' donation was spent on two single chairs, a sofa and a coffee table for a communal area that has been created where families can meet and relax.

The main features of the refurbishment include:

The staff and their friends and family members have been raising money which will be spent to make Lexden Ward even more comfortable for women. For example, a 10km (6¼ mile) walk from Lexden Ward to Lexden village in June raised £1,008 and an open garden and vintage tea party held the next month at the home in Dovercourt of ward sister Louise Hawkins’ parents raised £1,014.

Two years ago, the Delivery Suite and Juno Suite midwife-led unit, both located on the ground floor of Constable Wing, were upgraded as part of a £1.2m programme of improvements.

The main contractor for the refurbishment of Lexden Ward was Stroods of West Mersea. While the work took place, staff and patients were transferred to an empty ward.