Work is set to begin next year on a £6.8 million project to improve care for women and babies at Whipps Cross Hospital.

Barts Charity has awarded cash to pay for a new midwifery-led birthing unit, a baby care unit and remodelling of antenatal and postnatal wards at the Leytonstone hospital.

The grant from the charity, which funds projects at five Barts Health Trust centres across east London, will also go towards a “A Women’s Centre of Excellence” offering specialist gynaecology and cancer services.

Fiona Miller Smith, Chief Executive of Barts Charity, said: “We’re delighted to have funded this hugely exciting new project at Whipps Cross.

“It is set to have a huge impact on the local population, supporting mothers and children of east London.

“It also builds on our previous £2m funding to establish the Barts Women’s Health Research network, and we’re confident that it will give them a greater reach to ensure significantly improved care and outcomes for mothers across the UK.”

Barts Health figures suggest one in five women currently choose to give birth away from Whipps Cross because of the “tired” nature of the current estate.

Cristina Cribiu and husband, Daniel Meach, from Leyton, celebrated the arrival of their daughter Francesca on November 8 at the hospital’s Lilac Birth Centre.

Cristina said: “The investment is a great thing.

“Parts of the building do look run down and I can understand why some people’s first reaction might be to go elsewhere to have their baby.

“But the centre is clean and I had enough privacy, and the staff have been great throughout which I feel is what really matters; I am extremely grateful to them.”