05/09/2008

Maternity Plans Conceived

Key proposals for an expansion of maternity services at Craigavon Area Hospital have been announced.

NI Health Minister Michael McGimpsey revealed his plans to develop maternity services in the Southern Trust area overall, which will allow for hundreds of additional births every year at Craigavon.

He said yesterday that this represents an investment of around £3.5million.



The Minister said: "Our maternity services face a number of challenges. There is an increasing birth rate across Northern Ireland. This is particularly evident in the Southern Trust area and in the east of the Province.

"This increasing birth rate means maternity services must be developed to meet some immediate pressures," he continued.

"
To help address these, I have asked the Southern Trust to start planning for an expansion of maternity services at Craigavon Area Hospital to provide for 300 additional births there each year."
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Craigavon Area Hospital already has recorded 3,795 births in 2007/08 - an increase of almost 1,000 compared to 2003/04 - when there were around 2,850 births.

The fresh proposals include an increased capacity for the midwifery unit which currently delivers around 600 births each year.

Accommodation for mothers and babies will also be improved as part of the investment., as the Minister explained: "I want to ensure that the services we provide are of a high quality, are safe for mothers and babies and are configured to serve us well into the future.

"This proposed development will significantly improve both the access to and quality of services for women in the Southern Trust area," he said.

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) is currently considering the business case for the expansion of maternity services at Craigavon Area Hospital and a decision is expected over the next few months.


(BMcC/KMcA)

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