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by Kathryn Thomson

Chief Executive

Planning a baby? Meet the experts - plus how we are investing in your future

If you are pregnant or planning a baby, you should try to catch "Preparing for Pregnancy", the first of our Medicine for Members events this Thursday, October 13, when we will have experts on hand to answer all your questions in an informal and friendly atmosphere. The event takes place in our Blair Bell Education Centre from 6pm-8pm. Although it's been arranged for members of our Foundation Trust, anyone who feels it would be helpful is welcome to come along.

Those of you who have been to Liverpool Women's recently may have noticed major building work as you head towards our main entrance. This is part of our "Big Push" project to refurbish and redevelop our maternity facilities and services. Importantly for our patients, it symbolises how we are looking to the future and investing in order to deliver even greater benefits to patients in keeping with our promise, Dedicated to You.

The "Big Push" is one of our most significant investments yet, costing £10m in total with the aim of improving the environment for all the women who choose to have their babies with us. Last year that was 8,344 women. We have already invested £1m in the first phase, resulting in larger bays with fewer beds, ensuite facilities and additional toilet bays. Other improvements include toilet and baby changing facilities for visitors in the ward area.

The feedback has been really positive and we are embarking in optimistic mood on the second phase of this exciting project which has been designed after listening to staff and patients about their expectations.

This next phase, costing £3m will include a separate triage and assessment area, an induction suite and some low dependency rooms. We are also providing additional birthing pools which are proving increasingly popular.

Other patient-focussed developments include:

*Our partnership with the University of Liverpool in establishing a Centre for Better Births at Liverpool Women's. This will carry out vital research into problems around pregnancy and birth and how to achieve the best possible results for our mothers and babies.

*Projects to bring services closer to home for those living outside the city. For example, we are providing more outpatient gynaecology services at our Aintree site.

*We care for women of all ages at Liverpool Women's. An important investment for cancer patients has been our ability to bring chemotherapy on site at Crown Street,

*The introduction of our First Trimester screening for Down's Syndrome, offering a blood test and a nuchal translucency scan to all women who have their booking appointment before 12 weeks of pregnancy.

As well as investing in bricks and mortar, we are investing in staff in terms of management development and training in leadership skills. As we press ahead with our ambitious plans for the future, it is essential that we have people with the skills to carry these projects forward at Liverpool Women's which has the largest maternity unit in Europe.

10 October 2011