Earlier today (Tuesday 21 February 2017) Minister for Public Health and Sport, Aileen Campbell MSP responded on behalf of the Scottish Government to the recently published The Best Start: A Five Year Forward Plan for Maternity and Neonatal Services. This review, which Bliss Scotland helped to shape, sets out an ambitious vision to modernise neonatal and maternity services by the end of the current Scottish Parliament.
The Minister made a number of welcome announcements in her statement, including:
- Committing to implementing all 76 recommendations from the review.
- Prioritising those recommendations which focus on supporting parents to be with their baby, including increasing the level of free accommodation available to parents and urgently reviewing how parents are supported with the costs they incur when their baby receives neonatal care.
- Developing transitional care facilities in post-natal wards so that babies who only need a little support after birth can be kept with their parents, rather than admitted to neonatal units.
- Prioritising the reconfiguration of neonatal services so the very smallest and sickest babies in Scotland receive the best clinical care and have the best possible chance of survival and quality of life.
This statement comes just weeks after the release of the Bliss Scotland baby report 2017: An opportunity to deliver improvements to neonatal care. This report echoed many of the key themes of the review, but also found that many services currently lack the staff and resources they need to meet essential standards of high-quality care for babies born premature or sick.
Bliss Scotland Chief Executive Caroline Lee-Davey says, "It is extremely positive to see that the Scottish Government has fully recognised the potential of the Best Start to transform neonatal care across the country and has committed to adopting all of its recommendations.
"It is also welcome to see that key areas like costs to families with a baby in neonatal care, overnight accommodation and neonatal service planning have all been identified as priority areas for implementation.
"However, our own recent findings have shown that existing workforce and resourcing gaps are already prevalent across the service and we would urge the Scottish Government to quickly address these alongside implementing the review’s recommendations.
"Overall, we welcome this really positive statement and the value the Scottish Government places on its neonatal and maternity services, and Bliss Scotland looks forward to supporting the implementation process over the coming months."
You can support Bliss Scotland right now. Ask your MSPs to show their commitment to improving neonatal services by calling on the Cabinet Secretary for Health to make sure investment is made available to stem the staffing shortfall now, to make sure this golden opportunity is not wasted.