A MULTI-MILLION pound building programme to improve maternity services at Poole Hospital is poised for completion next month.

The £4m project at the St Mary’s unit, which will provide an additional 13 maternity beds and three more birthing pools, was due to have been completed by December.

A hospital spokesman explained: “The programme of works, originally scheduled for completion by the end of 2013, has seen poor weather hamper progress in the autumn, while significant unforeseen works required to the electrical and plumbing infrastructure, have contributed to the revised schedule.”

The project will support an extra 1,400 extra births a year and includes an additional high dependency bed, a further delivery room for women expecting a higher risk delivery and one more bed in the Haven birthing suite for midwife-led births.

Other features include eight beds for the postnatal ward and two further beds to the antenatal ward.

Head of midwifery Sandra Chitty said: “I think mums-to-be will really appreciate the improved environment, greater choice and the added facilities.

“Surveys show that the care we provide compares well with other trusts, and I’m confident that this investment will enable us to build on that further.”

The work has also included a complete refurbishment and relocation of the midwife-led birthing unit with new en-suite facilities, a new antenatal ward layout and a self-contained bereavement suite.

Improvements to the adjacent local neonatal unit, which cares for very sick babies, are set for completion in late March.

These improvements include a completely refurbished layout offering more space around cots, as well as new intensive care equipment and two extra parent rooms, a kitchen and rest facilities for families.

The bereavement suite will have two en-suite rooms as well as a separate entrance and exit, which will promote greater privacy to bereaved patients and their families.