The King’s Fund has this week launched a new report, Understanding NHS financial pressures: how are they affecting patient care?, which examines patient care in four key areas including neonatal services.
Neonatal services provide vital and often life-saving support to the over 90,000 babies born premature or sick each year in the UK. In line with findings from the Bliss Baby Report 20151, the King’s Fund has highlighted that staff shortages across both nursing and medical roles present "the greatest challenge" to neonatal services delivering care in line with national standards to these vulnerable babies.
Caroline Lee-Davey, Chief Executive of Bliss, said: "This report corroborates Bliss’ own findings that many neonatal services are not meeting national standards across staffing, cot capacity or accommodation for parents, and it is particularly worrying that the report highlights 'considerable variation' between units. Bliss' latest research showed that two-thirds of neonatal units in England did not have enough nurses to meet national standards, and the same proportion did not have enough doctors.
"In order to deliver improved outcomes for all babies born premature or sick, the NHS England neonatal review currently under way must urgently address staffing, models of care and consistent support for parents to stay with their babies."
The report also acknowledges the impact on families who have to travel sometimes long distances to a neonatal unit, and the additional pressure this distance puts on their finances and family life as a whole. Bliss is calling for all NHS Trusts to provide more overnight accommodation so parents can stay close to their baby2, which in turn will help to deliver better outcomes for babies in neonatal care.
The full report can viewed on the King’s Fund website.
- The Bliss Baby Report 2015 findings around staffing levels include:
• 64 per cent of units do not have enough nurses to meet minimum standards
• There is a shortfall of 2,140 nurses
• 65 per cent of units do not have enough specialist nurses
• 64 per cent of units do not have enough doctors
• Only one in ten units are able to meet safe staffing levels in intensive care
- Bliss’ report, Families kept apart: barriers to parents’ involvement in their baby's hospital care, published September 2016, found huge variation and frequent gaps in the provision of services across England, such as a lack of overnight accommodation, kitchen space, and financial support.