Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, officially opened the state-of-the-art Maternity theatres at Bradford Royal Infirmary’s Women’s and Newborn Unit earlier today, on Thursday, 6th July.

During her visit, The Princess Royal had the opportunity to explore the newly established facilities and engage with the dedicated staff. She had a delightful encounter with Emily Gledhill, accompanied by her one-year-old daughter, Lottie, who had the honour of being among the first babies delivered in these remarkable theatres.

To conclude her tour, Her Royal Highness unveiled a commemorative plaque in the unit’s foyer. Present at the ceremony were Professor Mel Pickup, Chief Executive of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, along with members of the Maternity team and esteemed guests.

In a heartwarming gesture, four-year-old Elsie, daughter of Midwife Rachael Gargon, presented The Princess Royal with a delightful posy of flowers.

These state-of-the-art theatres, constructed at a cost of £8 million, are equipped to handle both scheduled and emergency caesarean procedures, as well as other complex deliveries. Remarkably, the construction work continued unabated even during the challenging times of the COVID pandemic. The dedicated Maternity team worked tirelessly, ensuring the safe arrival of countless newborns day in and day out.

During her visit, The Princess Royal also took the opportunity to explore the newly established enhanced maternal care (EMC) recovery rooms, which are situated adjacent to the new theatres. These rooms are specifically designed for closely monitoring mothers who are at high risk of complications following childbirth.

Additionally, The Princess Royal engaged in conversations with midwives, other members of the Maternity team, and the Estates team, gaining insights into the initiatives undertaken to enhance pregnancy and birth experiences.

Since the inauguration of these new theatres, an impressive total of 1,904 babies have been delivered within their walls. The thoughtful design and layout of the area enable mothers to maintain visual contact with their newborns at all times.

Director of Midwifery at the Trust, Sara Hollins, said: “We’re incredibly proud that The Princess Royal chose to visit Bradford again, following her visit to our Birth Centre in 2016, to see how we’re progressing on our journey to provide outstanding maternity services to women and babies in the district.

“We value her ongoing support to maternity services and the midwifery profession, in her role as Patron of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

“As well as providing fantastic facilities, the theatres are a really good and positive thing as they represent life, birth, joy and new beginnings. Really importantly, it’s also a much better environment for women: it’s a softer clinical environment for them and their dignity is better protected. This is all about the woman’s journey and remembering that women are at the centre of everything we do.

“They also provide a whole new, better and more efficient way of working for the theatres’ team. The building of the new theatres and EMC recovery area has given them a new sense of ownership and pride, and being able to incorporate the changes needed from the women’s perspective has given the team a sense of achievement.”