Work is under way to complete more than £6 million of improvements to a maternity ward, making it a better place for parents to welcome their newborns.

The project by South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust is under way at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

It will be carried out over two phases, the first involves updating its Delivery Suite’s dedicated operating theatre footprint, with around £2 million being spent on the upgrade.

It will be followed by the revamp of more than 30 rooms in the department. New equipment and furniture will be installed, ensuite bathrooms will be upgraded and the rooms will be redecorated, making them a much nicer place to stay.

This will start next year and will see around £4.2 million spent on the overhaul.

It will improve both the suites where babies are delivered and those where families and their babies spend their time following a birth.

Last weekend, to help further progress on the theatre work, a large crane was brought in to lift equipment into the first-floor space.

The equipment will provide filtered air to the theatre environment as part of infection control measures.

Melanie Johnson, the Trust’s Executive Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals, said: “We’re very excited these works have started and we know they will make a considerable difference to the families and our colleagues too.

“This means there will be some noise and disruption but we’re working to keep this to a minimum and we’re grateful to parents and visitors for their patience while this upgrade work is being carried out.”

Ahead of this work, the unit is already looking brighter, with its Antenatal section repainted in a lighter shade to brighten it up.

The same colour will follow through to other areas of the unit in time.

Meanwhile, the Delivery Suite corridor, which is where women in labour arrive and leave once they are ready to head home, has been decorated with a mural featuring landmarks from across the Trust’s area.

University of Sunderland MA design student Emily Butterfield created the piece following feedback through the Maternity Voices Partnership South Tyneside and Sunderland patient forum.

The artwork was created through a partnership with Sunderland Creatives, which brings together the University of Sunderland and Creo Communications to give students first-hand experience and a chance to work with professionals.

More details about our Maternity services are available here.