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Neonatal units understaffed

17th April 2007

Special care baby units are seriously understaffed says the UK’s leading premature baby charity.

Premature Baby

According to Bliss, babies’ lives are being put at risk as units close down and infants have to travel miles for appropriate care.  Often the first few hours after birth are crucial in determining the chances of survival for premature babies and Bliss has called on the government to make specialist care of these tiny infants a funding priority.  More than 80,000 babies are born prematurely each year and receive specialist care in neonatal units.  The report by Bliss suggests that these units are understaffed by over a third and were closed to new admissions for an average of 24 days in every six month period.  The study also found a quarter of twins or triplets were cared for in separate hospitals.

The Chief Executive of Bliss, Andy Cole, said "Bliss is concerned that the government gives less priority to intensive care for babies than for adults and children, and that it is only thanks to the goodwill and commitment of doctors and nurses that babies are being cared for in some cases."  The government said that there had been a 13% increase in the number of neonatal cots available nationally but admitted to localised problems in some parts of the country. Health minister Ivan Lewis said, "There is nothing more important than the care and support we offer to sick babies and their parents.?

A recent study suggested that infant deaths could be cut in half if all premature babies received specialist neonatal care on a one-to-one basis.

 

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