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Wednesday 20th June 2018

Neonatal nurse shortage

17th June 2008

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has said many hospitals are lacking neonatal nurses and equipment, despite more need for intensive care.


Statistics from 2006/07 revealed that one in 10 babies required a bed in an intensive care unit.

Five years ago, the 180 neonatal units in England were divided into 23 "clinical networks", however MPs said that there were still regional variations in the amount of deaths.

Edward Leigh MP, the committee's chairman, said: "Constraints in capacity mean the Department of Health is still struggling to meet the demand for neonatal services."

He added that the shortfall needed to be looked at as a matter of urgency and added: "high occupancy rates in a third of units could have major implications for patient safety, owing to increased risk of infection or inadequate staffing levels."

Tina Pollard, the chairman of the Neonatal Nurses' Association, said many neonatal wards had to function with "one nurse for every two babies or worse", despite guidance that one nurse per baby was the ideal.

The government's national clinical director for children, young people and maternity services, Dr Sheila Shribman, stated that government funding for neonatal care had increased to over £800 million in 2006/07.

She added: "We recognise there is still more to do," and mentioned the establishment of a Neonatal Taskforce to improve services.


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