MATERNITY unit staff at Yeovil Women's Hospital are delighted to announce the arrival of a £760,000 refurbishment scheme.

The 35-year-old building - which stands behind the main Yeovil District Hospital - will have windows replaced on the north and south sides to incorporate new external solar controls. Refurbishment will also take place to the roof and second lift.

Significant security enhancements are planned within the maternity unit, which sees the delivery of more than 1,500 babies each year, including the installation of electronic door controls and a state-of-the-art baby tagging system.

Freya Ward and the delivery suite is to have a new ante-natal day care facility, a bereavement room and capacity for accommodating dads overnight.

The East Somerset NHS Trust's maternity manager, Marion Andrews, said: "This is a tremendously exciting development for us.

"I am sure women will really appreciate the improved quality to their surroundings that this major refurbishment will bring.

"We are taking advice from the Art in Hospital initiative, which has considerable expertise in making hospital corridors, wards and patient areas look much more interesting and friendly.

"Members of the public are also helping to advise us on the detailed plans."

Building works are expected to take six to eight months to complete during which all facilities will be provided as usual.

Mrs Andrews added: "We hope mothers, babies and visitors will not be unnecessarily inconvenienced by this major modernisation of the local maternity facilities."

Funding for the scheme was secured from the Department of Health's Millions for Maternity programme - along with pledges from the local Leagues of Friends - to demonstrate real partnership with the community.