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Bliss Scotland calls for urgent investment into neonatal care: Campaign update

29 March 2017
Volunteer Coady Dorman and Shona Robison MSP

Since the launch of our latest report, our call for urgent investment into neonatal care has been making an impact in both Holyrood and Westminster. The Bliss Scotland Baby Report 2017, published in January, looks at how well Scottish neonatal services are able to meet national standards of high-quality, safe care and how they can be improved.

Our report arrived just days after the Scottish Government published the maternity and neonatal services review report The Best Start: A Five Year Forward Plan for Maternity and Neonatal Care in Scotland. This report is the culmination of a nearly two-year review process with which Bliss Scotland was closely involved – and sets out a vision for the future outlining 76 recommendations designed to transform and modernise neonatal, and maternity, services.

In February the Scottish Government announced that the recommendations set out in The Best Start will be accepted and that an implementation panel will be appointed 'in the coming weeks'.

Read on for an update of how the report was received by MPs in Westminster at a roundtable discussion in March, and an update from the launch event which was held in Scottish Parliament in January.

You can read the Bliss Scotland Baby Report 2017 on our website.

Scottish neonatal services discussed in Westminster

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisely and Renfrewshire North, hosted a roundtable event in parliament on Tuesday 21 March 2017 to discuss the Bliss Scotland Baby Report 2017.

Scottish baby report Westminster roundtable event

He opened the discussion by talking about his experience as a parent of a child who was born prematurely. Also addressing the group, SNP Spokesperson for Health Dr Philippa Whitford, MP for Central Ayrshire, reflected on NHS staffing, with invaluable insight having worked as a consultant breast surgeon in Ayrshire and Arran for just over 15 years. In a video message, Bliss Scotland volunteer and parent Coady Dorman spoke about her experience on a neonatal unit with her son Matthew who was born at 29 weeks.

MPs heard more about the report published by the Scottish Government - The Best Start: A Five Year Forward Plan for Maternity and Neonatal Care in Scotland - and further discussion focussed on the anticipated implementation phase.

Scottish baby report Westminster roundable

We’ll be following up with MPs to see how they can work with us to support babies and families living in their local area. In the meantime we are also keeping the pressure on Scottish Government to implement these ambitious plans without delay and to take immediate action to address staffing shortages.

Bliss Scotland held Holyrood event for MSPs

The Bliss Scotland baby report 2017 was launched in Holyrood in January. The event was hosted by Jeremy Balfour, MSP for Lothian, who spoke candidly about the impact on him and his family of having had a baby daughter who was sadly stillborn. He also talked about the later experience of having twins born prematurely at 34 weeks.

Jeremy Balfour MSP speaking

Cabinet Health Secretary Shona Robison MSP addressed the room, outlining the Scottish Government’s Five-Year Forward Plan for Maternity and Neonatal Care in Scotland which was released just days before and welcoming Bliss Scotland’s role in challenging Government to do more for babies born premature or sick.

The event was very well attended by MSPs, parents, Bliss volunteers, healthcare professionals, and charity representatives, who listened to our findings and heard our call for action. There was even a surprise contribution from two year old Matthew Dorman who joined his Mum Coady on the podium to assist her with her speech! A photo album from the event is available to view on Flickr.

Get involved!

Whilst the Scottish Government’s Five Year Plan acknowledges that there will be costs associated with implementing its recommendations in the future, it falls short of saying that additional investment is needed to grow the current workforce. Please help us to keep the pressure on Scottish Government by getting in touch with your MSP and asking them to write to Cabinet Health Secretary Shona Robison MSP to urge her to take immediate action.

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