Exclusive: Inside Surrey Hospital's revamped premature baby unit

ITV News Meridian's Charlotte Briere-Edney was given an exclusive tour

A specialist unit at the Royal Surrey Hospital which cares for premature babies has been officially reopened after a multimillion pound renovation. 

As well as brand new equipment and an extra operating theatre, the ward will be one of the first in the country to offer beds, so that parents can stay overnight with their new arrivals.

The Royal Surrey's Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) looks after premature babies from 31 weeks onwards, or those born weighing just 1.2kilos.

The reopening of the Royal Surrey Hospital premature baby unit. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Four million pounds has been spent on state-of-the-art incubators, a second operating theatre, and a family room.

The change everyone was talking about was special chairs that turn into beds like a first class airplane seat.

Credit: ITV News Meridian

It means parents can stay with their newborn 24 hours a day.

Amy Stubbs, Deputy Director of Midwifery, said: "We know that stress and anxiety for both mothers and babies in these early days has impact on mental health for both.

"So anything that we can do to help support bonding attachment and reduce stress for those mothers is going to help the whole family."

Kiki and mum Mobolade spent three weeks on the ward. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Kiki and mum Mobolade, from Bracknell, were some of the first to benefit during their three weeks on the ward. Now safely back home, the family say they can't thank staff enough.

Mobolade said: "Being in SCBU overnight made me feel more like a mum. It made me less tearful. Outside of everything, this is your child, you're her mum, just do what you would normally do."

Credit: ITV News Meridian

Benefactors and fundraisers contributed £500,000 towards the refurbishment.

Many were families with first-hand experience of the unit, like mum Sadie and little Sienna from Haslemere, who back in 2019 was born 5 weeks early, weighing just 3 pounds.

Back then, there was no way for Sienna to stay overnight.

Sienna said: "Still I remember that feel of getting into the car without her, and just bursting into tears and just sobbing the entire way home, because it just felt so wrong.

"That's why, when I heard that they were going to rebuild the SCBU unit to incorporate the beds next to the cots for the parents to be able to stay with their baby, I was like I've got to do something, I've got to help."

Sienna and her husband organised an 8-hour spin-a-thon, raising £14,000.

Sienna and her husband helped to raise funds for the new baby unit.

"If I have done something, however small, to help to contribute to that, so that parents in the future don't have to go through the same thing, then yeah that's pretty amazing."