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Sunday 20th May 2018

Baby units stretched to limit

11th October 2007

A leading charity has warned that services for sick and premature babies are being stretched to the limit.

Premature Baby

A survey carried out by Bliss found that the majority of neonatal units who responded to its inquiries were operating at or below half their minimum staffing levels.

Bliss said that every unit was forced to close its doors to new patients on average for a fortnight over a six-month period.

After finding no improvements on surveys carried out in the previous two years, Bliss chief executive Andy Cole warned that the service was on the brink of collapse.

He said: “We are concerned that the government still gives less priority to intensive care for babies than for adults and children. The Department of Health’s recent commitment to provide extra midwives is a step in the right direction for maternity services - we now need to see the same commitment to ensuring that there are adequate numbers of trained neonatal nurses for those babies born sick or premature.?

Bliss obtained responses from 195 neonatal units after making inquiries using the Freedom of Information Act. It found high bed occupancy rates and many parents also complained that a shortage of neonatal cots at their local hospital has meant long journeys for their babies.

Bliss estimates a further 2,600 trained neonatal nurses are required across the UK.

The Department of Health said that it was taking steps to improve recruitment and the issue would form part of the review conducted by new health minister Lord Darzi.


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