We are delighted to hear Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales, make clear his expectation that neonatal units in Wales will be properly staffed by 2021 during Questions to the First Minister.
This was in response to a question from Andrew RT Davies AM, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, who asked the First Minister to address the staffing problems identified in the Bliss baby report 2016: time for change, which revealed that eight out of ten hospitals providing neonatal care in Wales do not have enough nurses to staff all of their cots in line with national standards for safe, high quality care.
Andrew RT Davies also highlighted our findings that fewer than half of all neonatal units in Wales are able to offer any psychological support for parents, despite up to 40 per cent of mothers of premature babies being affected by postnatal depression.
Our latest report revealed neonatal services in Wales are under significant pressure. Nurses and doctors caring for our most vulnerable babies do an incredible job but are often stretched too thin. As well as shortages of nurses, half of units do not have enough doctors. This has resulted in nearly a quarter of all emergency transfers of babies taking place due to a lack of staffed cots rather than medical need, putting babies at unnecessary risk and adding to families’ stress and worry.
Bliss, together with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), is calling for urgent action and investment from the Welsh Government to ensure all premature and sick babies born in Wales get the care they need and deserve. Help us call for action now.