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New NICU unit opens after £400,000 fundraising effort
PARENTS whose baby is being cared for in Salisbury District Hospital’s new neo-natal intensive care unit can now stay alongside their little ones thanks to a mammoth fundraising effort by local people.
The parents’ accommodation next to the NICU unit is now open after people rallied around to raise more than £400,000 in less than three years to fund it.
Lord Pembroke, patron of the hospital’s Stars Appeal, said: “I’m absolutely blown away by the new unit. To see this new ward is a delight; it is so wonderful and a privilege to see.
“It will make such a difference to parents. My wife is due to give birth to our second baby in two weeks, and I know how hard it is to be parted even from a healthy baby. To be parted from a baby who is so ill must be absolutely heartbreaking.”
The NICU unit cares for hundreds of newborns every year from Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset, with many parents having to travel more than 50 miles to see their baby each day, often while caring for older children as well.
Emily Pitts, whose daughter Edith, now two, spent two months in the NICU after being born prematurely, had to travel between the hospital and her home in Mere.
She said: “This is brilliant. It would have made such a difference to me to have something like this.”
The new accommodation not only allows them to stay near to their babies in the crucial first few weeks, but also has a family room where older brothers and sisters can spend time with their new siblings once they are a little better.
The new enhanced NICU unit, which is over three times the size of the original facility, is already up and running, and is now one of the best facilities in the south of England.
The total cost of the project was £800,000 with the NHS paying for the unit itself and the funding raised through the Stars Appeal providing the money for the family accommodation and other enhancements.
Neonatal unit manager Shirley Kinsey said: “Quite simply, our dream has come true. We wanted this so much for the parents and the babies, and it would never have been possible without the marvellous support we have received from everyone.”