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Health / Bereavement suite opens in Gilbert Bain Hospital

From left to right: NHS chief executive Brian Chittick, consultant Pinki Singh, consultant Dilip Shet, midwife/sonographer Karen MacKay, midwife and project lead Hannah McCluskey, Shetland Sands chair Marie Manson, midwife Rozanne Jamieson, chief midwife Jacquie Whitaker, director of nursing and acute services Kathleen Carolan, capital projects manager David Wagstaff. Photo: BBC Radio Shetland

A NEW bereavement suite for parents who have suffered an early pregnancy loss such as miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy has now opened at the Gilbert Bain Hospital.

The new suite, named the Northern Star, provides bereaved parents with a comfortable and private space.

As part of the renovation work the dedicated suite within the maternity department includes a bedroom space and shower facilities.

Chief midwife Jacquie Whitaker said: “This has been a project that has meant a lot to all of us.

“We wanted to be able to provide an appropriate space for families and have worked collaboratively with Sands, the UK’s leading baby loss charity, and the estates team to ensure that we have somewhere that is peaceful and distanced away from the main maternity ward.

Photo: NHS Shetland

“It was also important that we made it look more homely than a clinical room and we worked with the architects to use colour and natural materials as well as sourcing soft furnishings that give the room a less clinical feel.”

A key feature of the new suite is the separate entrance and exit, which means that bereaved families do not have to use the main door into the maternity department.

Whitaker explained: “Before Northern Star was commissioned, families used the main entrance to the maternity department.

“The room used was right by the entrance door and could often be noisy, especially when there was a lot of activity in the department. Now we have a separate entrance that affords peace and privacy.”

NHS Shetland has worked in partnership with baby loss charity Sands and a parent that has used the service in the past on the project.

Photo: NHS Shetland

Shetland Sands chair Marie Manson said: “Shetland Sands is delighted to see the opening of the new bereavement suite; this will give grieving parents the privacy and quiet space they need.

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“We have been really happy to be involved with this project and hope to continue to provide support and any materials required for the suite, these items will be purchased using funds donated by the members of the public in Shetland and further afield.”

NHS chief executive Brian Chittick said: “As a board, it was so important that we supported this project to acknowledge the journey that some parents have to take following early pregnancy loss.

“The team wanted to provide a compassionate and caring environment for families and we are all so proud of their efforts and the establishment of the Northern Star suite.”

The suite opens today (Monday).

Sands says that 13 families a day in the UK suffer the heartbreak of losing their baby before, during or shortly after birth.

Contact information for Shetland Sands can be found here, while more information on NHS Shetland’s maternity service is available here.

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