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New neonatal unit to provide care for 600 newborns

1 February 2006

New neonatal unit to provide care for 600 newborns

A new $8 million neonatal unit will be a huge asset for families in Counties Manukau and the wider Auckland region, Health Minister Pete Hodgson said today.

The unit – which had its official opening today at Middlemore Hospital – was developed following a national review of neonatal capacity in 2004.

"Having a newborn baby with a serious illness is a tremendously difficult situation for any family to deal with," Pete Hodgson said. "The government has been determined to do all we can to ensure quality neonatal services exist for all New Zealand families.

"When we looked at neonatal services two years ago, we realised that many ill children in Counties Manukau were having to be cared for outside the region as Middlemore's capacity was significantly stretched.

"That meant that families were having to travel some distance to be with their children, causing obvious stress. I'm glad we've been able to work with the community so that more local newborns can be cared for in their own area."

The new neonatal intensive care unit will provide care for around 600 critically ill newborn babies a year in the Auckland metropolitan area and replaces Middlemore's existing facility.

The government and Counties Manukau DHB have contributed $4.5 million towards the development of the facility, with another $3.6 million provided by the South Auckland Health Foundation.

The unit is three times the size of the previous facility, with 26 cots and a capacity for up to 36.

"The additional space in the unit will allow much more involvement of parents and families in the care of their baby and some families will have the opportunity to stay overnight," Pete Hodgson said.

"Auckland metropolitan DHBs work together to support neonatal intensive care services and this new unit will prevent babies and families having to move out of the Auckland region.

ENDS

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