Staff at the Conquest Hospital’s Special Care Baby Unit are struggling with a lack of space - but work to expand the unit isn’t expected to start for another two years.
The Eastbourne District General Hospital’s SCBU moved to the Conquest in 2013.
But there has been no physical expansion of the site since the centralisation, with cramped conditions leading to ‘operational pressures’.
The East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust is planning to build a £1.5m extension to the unit.
However, the work is not expected to be carried out until 2018/19.
Staff in SCBU expressed their concerns about space during a recent ‘Quality Walk’, which is carried out by members of the Trust board to allow them to observe and review the care being given and listen to feedback from patients, visitors and staff.
The results of the visit were presented in a report to the Trust board earlier this month.
It read: “Staff in SCBU highlighted that since the unit was moved to a single site as part of the rationalisation of services in 2013, there has been no physical expansion of the unit and that a lack of space is a key issue for staff.
“Although the unit can accommodate up to 12 cots the associated space for parents, equipment and staff is severely constrained leading to operational pressures.
“A number of schemes have been proposed to expand the unit but not completed and the staff were feeling frustrated over a lack of progress.”
The report also noted that some of the delivery rooms in the maternity unit required ‘environmental improvements’.
A spokesperson for the Trust said: “The work to expand the SCBU at Conquest Hospital is included within our draft estates strategy.
“It is planned to expand the unit into the adjacent courtyard to provide additional clinical space around each cot.
“This expansion will also include additional overnight en-suite rooms for mothers and babies who require support prior to discharge.
“In relation to the comment about delivery rooms requiring some environmental improvement, this relates to the décor of the rooms.
“All the delivery rooms are fit for purpose. Two delivery rooms have been refurbished recently and a new low risk birthing room with birthing pool was opened earlier this year.
“The upgrade of the remaining delivery rooms forms part of our general maintenance programme.”
A number of other services and departments were visited as part of the ‘Quality Walk’ programme at the Conquest, DGH, Bexhill Hospital and Avenue House in Eastbourne.
Most of the visits were pre-arranged.
Alice Webster, director of nursing at the Trust, who carried out a Quality Walk at the Irvine Unit in Bexhill, suggested to the board that some walks should be carried out ‘after hours’.
Speaking at a Trust board meeting last week, she said: “It’s really important we get a very different view of the organisation out of hours as well as in hours.
“You just get a totally different feel for the organisation so I would encourage people, if you can, to come out at night.”
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