Bliss Scotland is calling upon Holyrood to honour its pledge to urgently review its approach to expenses for families of babies in neonatal care in order to tackle the hefty price tag that Scottish parents are paying every week whilst their child is in hospital.
Research published by Bliss Scotland has revealed that the average weekly cost of having a baby in neonatal care is £218 across Scotland. This includes: £61 on buying food and drink in and around the hospital, £74 spent on travel, and £81 for childcare for older children. Almost 80 per cent of parents said that having a baby in the neonatal unit had worsened their financial situation, with a third of parents saying the cost had affected their ability to be with their baby in hospital.
While the health service in Scotland does have minimum requirements for units to provide support to families with accommodation, food and drink, these standards are still not being met, and in themselves are well below those seen across the rest of the UK. This situation cannot continue.
Bliss Scotland is calling for the implementation of urgent, immediate solutions, as well as the delivery of longer-term recommendations made by the Government’s own The Best Start review and the Bliss Scotland Baby Report. These include:
- Urgent intervention from the Scottish Government to provide financial support for parents who are on neonatal units today, who are facing increased costs as a result of their baby’s stay.
- Swift implementation of the Scottish Government’s own pledge to urgently review expenses for families of babies in neonatal care in order to develop a long-term, nationally agreed policy.
- Local reviews at a unit level of current facilities for families to make sure that they are enabling parents to be with their baby for as much time as possible. Health Boards should explore short term solutions such as meal vouchers, waiving parking fees, or partnerships with local hotels for accommodation if services cannot be provided on the unit.
- The level of family facilities that a unit provides to be a priority consideration for the Scottish Government when planning and implementing changes to the configuration of neonatal services in Scotland.
- A refresh of the Scottish Quality Framework to bring standards up to the same level as England and Wales, and regular monitoring of how Health Boards are meeting these standards.
Write to your MSP to ask them to act to provide parents with the support that they need to care for their baby on a neonatal unit here.
1 Findings from Bliss Scotland baby report 2017: An opportunity to deliver improvements in neonatal care
2 Scottish Government, The Best Start: A Five-Year Forward Plan for Maternity and Neonatal Care in Scotland (2017)