The location for a new midwife-led birthing centre for a number of expectant mums in Wigan has been unveiled by NHS bosses.
Birthing pools, mood lighting and high-defintion projectors, showing soothing natural images, will be installed at the hub, which is being run as part of a joint pilot scheme with health trusts in Bolton and Salford.
A former residential home in Swinton, Ingleside, has been selected as the site for the venture, under the Pioneer programme. and Bolton NHS Foundation Trust will provide the service.
The move will not affect the maternity unit at Wigan Infirmary, which will still be used for more complex and first-time births.
Instead the joint service will be tailored towards ‘low-risk’ pregnancies, where there is no immediate requirement for an obstetrician.
Four birthing suites, overseen by a consultant midwive and each with access to a birthing pool, will be available.
Health chiefs say Ingleside, which will replace the birth centre at Salford Royal Hospital and operate 24 hours a day all year round, is designed to offer greater choice for mums-to-be in the three boroughs.
Catherine Owens, the consultant leading the new service, said: “Where a woman chooses to have her baby is so important to her and her family. As a Pioneer site for ‘Better Births’, a national programme that facilitates improved choices for women during pregnancy, we can now exclusively offer women wider choice and improved birthing facilities within Greater Manchester.
“We want women and the local community to be at the centre of this new and exciting development.”
The centre, which is being refurbished by Salford City Council, should also host antenatal and postnatal clinics and classes, sessions on hypnobirth, infant feeding support and a host of complementary therapies.
Nicky Etchells, the Bolton trust’s midwifery head, added: “This will provide women in this area with the ability to access a full range of maternity services.
“The trust will be the only one in Greater Manchester to provide these options.”
When the initiative was launched earlier this year, clinicians at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust were adamant it was not being introduced to relieve pressures on the maternity unit.
Pauline Law, the trusts’s nursing director, said: “The fundamental aim is to improve women’s choice and knowledge of options available to them.”
The scheme will initially be offered to a select number of GP practices in Wigan and, if successful, then rolled out borough-wide in 2018.
Dr Tim Dalton, chairman of Wigan’s clinical commissioning group, added: “This extends the current choice of providers that women have in Wigan. The maternity services in Wigan borough will not be downgraded as a result of this work.”
The tender was officially awarded by Salford Clinical Commissioning Group.