Enabling works will begin this week for the £4m neonatal unit – or special care baby unit – at Noble’s Hospital.
The Department of Health says that new unit is being designed to provide the highest standard of care for babies, and to meet evolving standards and guidelines in neonatal care.
Tynwald approved the enabling works as part of this year’s Budget.
The unit will be next to the existing Jane Crookall Maternity Ward and neonatal facilities on the east side of the hospital complex.
The enabling works, which will prepare the site for construction, are the first step of the project and should be completed by late summer.
The detailed design for the unit is taking place now and the Department of Health will be seeking Tynwald approval for construction costs at its October sitting.
Dr Prakash Thiagarajan, consultant paediatrician and neonatologistat Noble’s Hospital, said: ‘There really isn’t a more important moment in someone’s life than the birth of their baby – we all know how fragile and precious life is.
‘Sadly, not all pregnancies and births go to plan, and sometimes a very high level of care is required in those crucial first hours and days of life. This new unit will enable us to offer the very best care for our island’s babies and their parents.
‘Importantly, it addresses a long-held desire to improve the physical environment and layout available for neonatal care, which was one area raised in the Healthcare Commission’s report in 2006.
‘The team at Noble’s Hospital is extremely grateful for this significant investment, which is enabling us to develop this vital service.
‘There can be few experiences as distressing and heart wrenching for a parent than when their baby is seriously ill, even more so after months of anticipation, waiting and excitement.
‘The quality of care and patient safety are of paramount importance at Noble’s Hospital and we look forward to being able to continue to meet the exacting standards required in this critical field of healthcare to provide the best possible outcomes for premature and seriously ill newborns.’
During the construction process there will be changes to the traffic routes around Noble’s Hospital, which will be well signposted.
Minister for Health David Anderson MHK said: ‘The department’s strategy is first and foremost about enabling all in our community to live healthy and fulfilling lives and achieving this through providing healthcare designed at promoting the best life chances.
‘There can be no more important first step on this road than ensuring that newborn babies requiring neonatal support benefit from the very highest standards of care.
‘While Noble’s Hospital, which celebrates its tenth anniversary next month, may still seem like a new hospital, advancements in medical care are constant, and things have moved on significantly in the field of neonatal care in particular since the design phase of the hospital in the 1990s.
‘This new facility will allow us to keep pace with these advancements and offer first rate medical care for vulnerable newborn babies – care that can continue to be high quality, safe and effective, and fit for the future.’