A new £200 million hospital will be a “game changer,” thanks to a unit caring for babies in need of specialist care, it has been claimed.
Construction of the Baird Family Hospital and Anchor Centre is expected to start this year, and to open by 2021.
Nicole Bauwens, nurse manager at the busy neonatal unit in Aberdeen, said she was looking forward to the facility opening.
She said: “The space in the new unit will make a massive difference.
“We’re working here in very cramped circumstances and as babies are being born smaller, the equipment is getting bigger.
“When this unit was brand new in the 1980s, people came from all over the country to look at it. Over 30 years later people ask us how we can work in it. We’re hoping to turn that around in the new unit.”
The manager said the new facility was being built to accommodate families who are currently restricted during visits, with a maximum of two people per crib at a time.
It’s also hoped that in the future a creche or siblings club can be set up for other children of parents using the unit.
As reported by the Evening Express last month, costs for the state-of-the-art hospital, which will have a dedicated cancer centre, have rocketed by £50m.
The health board admitted challenges within the construction sector and wider uncertainty over Brexit, plus the economic position, are reflected in the spiralling cost and an independent review has now been launched.
It was revealed in July the project was three months behind schedule while health chiefs analysed tenders.
However, Kirsty Cox, chairwoman of the Friends of the Neonatal Unit, which is also part of the Archie Foundation, said the new hospital would put Aberdeen on the map once it opens.
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The charity helps patients who are cared for in the unit by paying for extra services that are not offered by the NHS.
These include funding a psychologist two days a week and first photographs of babies for their parents.
Ms Cox said: “It will be really exciting to see the new hospital built and it will be great for patient care.
“There will be a palliative care unit so parents can spend their final moments with their baby if they are really sick.
“To get a brand new state-of-the-art unit will be amazing and help all future babies in the north-east.
“It is overwhelming to think about how much of a change it will make.
“For example there will be a lot more space for incubators. It will be a more open environment and there will be a lot more natural light coming in which can make a big difference.
“This hospital will be a total game changer and I think it will put Aberdeen on the map.
“It will show what a small unit can do with staff who are passionate.”