MATERNITY services at Ipswich Hospital are set for a £700,000 boost from the government as part of a national drive to improve and upgrade units, The Star can reveal today.

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The windfall comes as figures show Ipswich has seen a baby boom during the last decade – with the number of new arrivals rocketing by a staggering 40 per cent.

In 2011 1,978 babies were born to parents from the town, a 40 per cent rise compared to 2002, when the number of births was 1,415.

The Heath Road trust is one of 100 hospitals across the country to benefit from a £25million fund, health minister Dr Dan Poulter told The Star.

Ipswich Hospital has been awarded the largest share among trusts in the east, successfully bidding for £652,190.

The money will go towards improving the quality experience mothers and families receive at Ipswich during childbirth.

The trust’s application stated a desire to refurbish and improve the existing sanitary facilities on all three maternity wards, making each ward look clean, up to date and fit for purpose.

The money will also go towards buying new furniture and equipment to improve the quality of families’ experience and enable the team to ensure women’s childbirth is as normal as possible, regardless of the setting.

Meanwhile the Norfolk and Norwich has been awarded £272,000 and the Rosie Hospital in Cambridgeshire will get £166,971.

Dr Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, said the fund – an idea he developed – was “fantastic news” for Ipswich Hospital, while stressing he had no say in judging applications.

He said the money represented a commitment from the government to invest in maternity services to “give each child the best start in life”.

“This money will give the trust the chance to make real improvements to the birthing experience,” he said.

“We know there is already a fantastic team led by great consultants and midwives who provide great care.

“But this money will give the hospital the chance to invest in modernising the department and improve the birthing experience for mums, dads and families.

“It is about ensuring parents have the best support throughout pregnancy.

“Maternity units have had to show evidence that they asked mums and dads about what changes they need to make – so we know these are the changes local people really want to see.”

The announcement comes as Ipswich Hospital’s maternity team travel to London tonight, where they will go head-to-head with two other units for the title of Maternity Service at the Year at the Royal College of Midwives’ annual awards.

A hospital spokeswoman added: “We have a fantastic maternity team which helps deliver and care for more than 3,800 babies every year, and offers care and ongoing support for mothers.

“This news is a welcome boost, not only for our patients but also the dedicated staff. Winning the award tonight would be the ‘icing on the cake’.”

- Tell us your experiences of giving birth at Ipswich Hospital. Write to health reporter Lizzie Parry at Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail lizzie.parry@archant.co.uk

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