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'Government must improve maternity hospital design'

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The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) has called for the government to 'invest more time and money' improving architectural standards in the UK's maternity hospitals.

The charity has just completed a survey of new mothers in which 75 per cent said that a 'better built environment' would have made childbirth 'more relaxing and enjoyable'. In response, the NCT has launched a campaign to force the Department of Health to ensure that 'birthing rooms are designed around the needs of women'.

And it also wants the government to improve facilities for birth partners, fathers and siblings.

NCT chief executive Brenda Phipps insisted that the 'ideal conditions' for childbirth are underrepresented in maternity hospital design. 'When women arrive at a maternity unit, they need to feel in control of their environment and not overwhelmed by a clinical hospital, ' she said.

Phipps added that if the government 'was to take care to provide a good environment for labouring women', it would 'increase the chances of a straightforward birth'.

The Department of Health told the AJ that it 'was considering the survey's findings, but was consistently working to improve the 'conditions in Britain's hospitals'. However, recent Health and Safety Executive statistics show that one in 10 of Britain's hospital wards is 'technically unsafe', with repairs estimated at £3.4 billion.

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