The annual report of the National Neonatal Audit Programme (NNAP), produced by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has been released.
The NNAP report uses data collected from neonatal units across the UK to make recommendations to improve standards of neonatal care. The data was collected in 2016.
The 2016 data showed that:
- 90 per cent of parents were seen by a senior member of unit staff within 24 hours of their baby’s admission – a two per cent improvement on 2015 figures.
- The rate of babies born at less than 32 weeks gestation who have a temperature recorded within an hour within the recommended range of 36.5 to 37.5°C increased from 58 per cent in 2015 to 61 per cent in 2016.
- 86 per cent of pre-term babies were exposed to antenatal steroids to strengthen their lungs before birth – a one per cent increase from 2015.
Despite a trend of slight improvement in the standards of neonatal care at units across the country, further progress is required to give all babies in neonatal care the best quality of care and chance of survival.
The 2016 data also showed that:
- Four in 10 babies born at least 10 weeks early had no two year follow up information. The NNAP report suggests that all neonatal networks need to do better in providing this crucial follow-up service in order to identify and treat developmental delays.
- The use of antenatal magnesium to prevent cerebral palsy is being adopted by units around the country. However, neonatal networks vary in their coverage from 27 per cent to 70 per cent – showing how many more babies might benefit from this treatment if all networks used the treatment more widely.
- Screenings for Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) were conducted on time in 94 per cent of cases. Although this is a one per cent improvement on figures from 2015, ROP is a serious condition resulting in blindness and all networks should be striving to achieve the standard of 100 per cent “on time” screenings.
Zoe Chivers, Head of Services at Bliss said: “The findings of the NNAP report 2017 are some-what disappointing and show that some units are consistently hitting their targets whereas others are struggling to make improvements. Despite a slight increase in figures across the board, the progress being made in improvements to care is not significant enough; particularly in regards to the screening for Retinopathy of Prematurity which should be done as quickly as possible to help prevent blindness. Bliss calls on the chief executives at trusts and health boards across the UK to look closely at the findings of the NNAP report and to make the necessary changes to their services to deliver safe, high-quality care.
“These figures echo the findings of the Bliss Baby Reports for England, Scotland and Wales which have revealed that neonatal services across the UK are under severe pressure due to staffing shortages. The critical shortage of staff is leaving the most vulnerable of babies without the quality of care they need and putting unnecessary strain on the incredibly hard-working staff already on units. Bliss urges the Government to address the mounting staffing crisis before it is too late.”
The NNAP report can be read in full here.