PLANS to set up a new midwife-led unit at Worcestershire Royal Hospital thanks to a grant of almost half a million pounds from the Department of Health have been welcomed by the University of Worcester.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust announced it had been given the £497,000 pot of cash this week, which will be used to set up the new unit at the hospital in order to give new mothers a choice of a consultant or midwife-led birth.

The university’s lead midwife for education Sarah Snow said she was “delighted” by the announcement.

“All the scientific evidence shows that the creation of such units leads to better, safer birth outcomes overall for mothers and their babies,” she said.

“The creation of this new unit will also provide marvellous new opportunities for educating the student midwives whom the country so badly needs.”

At the university’s sixth annual birth conference last July Professor Mary Nolan said there was a “very strong desire in the profession to ensure that first class midwife led units are created throughout the UK”.

The university’s work in educating midwives in partnership with the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has consistently received outstanding evaluations in independent inspection reports from the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

The announcement follows the completion of a long-awaited report into the future of hospital services in the county which recommended consultant-led maternity services should be centralised at Worcestershire Royal Hospital while a stand-alone midwifery centre is set up in the Redditch area.