Upon her arrival in the afternoon, the Princess Royal was warmly received by Karen Jessop, Chief Nurse at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH), Lois Mellor, Director of Midwifery at DBTH, and an assembly of local and regional dignitaries from the NHS, local authority and Royal College of Midwives.
The primary reason of her visit was to engage with midwifery and neonatal colleagues, gaining insights into their invaluable work and the challenges and triumphs they face each and every day.
Karen Jessop, Chief Nurse at DBTH, remarked: “It was an honour to welcome Her Royal Highness to our hospital. Her visit not only highlights the importance of midwifery but also shines a light on the resilience and dedication of our staff, especially in the face of adversity.”
The Women’s and Children’s Hospital has seen substantial development and investment in recent years. In early 2021, a significant water leak at the top of the building led to a flood that severely damaged its infrastructure. This unfortunate event necessitated the evacuation of labouring mothers, their new-borns, and premature infants. Fortunately, nobody was harmed thanks to the quick action of colleagues, and for a time services were temporarily housed in alternative accommodation elsewhere in Doncaster Royal Infirmary.
In response to this setback, the Trust initiated a £3 million refurbishment project in May 2022, which culminated in the reopening of the Central Delivery Suite in late April 2023. This state-of-the-art unit boasts modern birthing rooms, a dedicated obstetric observation area, and a Midwifery Led Birth Centre.
Parallel to the refurbishment, the Trust launched a fundraising initiative for the creation of the Serenity Suite, a dedicated bereavement space for parents mourning the loss of a child during pregnancy.
With generous contributions from the community, local families and businesses, and significant donors like the Tickhill and Rural Lions, Albemarle Homes, and Sands United, the suite surpassed its fundraising goal of £150,000, collecting over £162,000 and counting.
The suite, which was completed in June 2023, offers a serene environment away from the bustling maternity wards, ensuring privacy and dignity for grieving families.
During her visit, the Princess Royal took the time to tour the Serenity Suite, meeting with sponsors and expressing her gratitude for their contributions. The largest single donation of £40,000 from the Tickhill and Rural Lions was particularly acknowledged.
Upon unveiling a commemorative plaque in the Serenity Suite, the Princess Royal was introduced by Suzy Brain England OBE, Chair of the Board. She said: “The journey towards creating the Serenity Suite has been one of unity and compassion. This is a place which serves as a sanctuary – a haven of peace and dignity – away from the hustle of the labour ward.
“Within its walls, parents who face the unimaginable pain of bereavement can find solace, and an environment where they can grieve with respect and dignity.
“The remarkable achievement of raising over £160,000 in just 12 months stands as proof of the extraordinary spirit of our local community. Every penny donated, every event organised, and every person who contributed their time and effort did so with an understanding of the profound impact that the Serenity Suite would have on grieving families – thank you on behalf of everyone within Team DBTH.”
In 2022/23 the Trust delivered 4,593 babies across services in Doncaster and Bassetlaw. At Doncaster Royal Infirmary, the team delivered 2,984 babies with a team of around 300 midwives and support workers.
Lois Mellor, Director of Midwifery at DBTH, added: “The Princess Royal’s visit is a testament to the hard work and commitment of our midwifery and neonatal teams. It’s heartening to see our efforts recognised, and we remain dedicated to providing the best care for our community.”