A report highlighting the financial burden to families whose baby is admitted to neonatal care is being published by Bliss today, 27 February 2014. It’s not a game: the very real cost of having a premature or sick baby found that parents faced spiralling costs averaging over £280 per week. It discovered that almost two thirds of parents of babies admitted to neonatal care felt their mental health had worsened as a result of the financial burden. Our report is based on a survey of over 1300 parents and 178 hospitals in England, Scotland and Wales.
We found that;
- Parents of a baby admitted to neonatal care face extra costs amounting to £2,256 during their baby’s stay in hospital, averaging £282 per week.
- Costs such as paying for food and drinks averaged £53 a week, while parents faced travel costs including petrol and parking averaging over £100 per week
- Three quarters of parents reported that their household finances were worsened, while one in five couldn’t afford to pay bills such as their rent or mortgage.
- The average stay in neonatal care was eight weeks. However, one in four babies and families faced 12 or more weeks in hospital and five percent faced a stay of over 20 weeks.
- Over half of mums felt their maternity leave was not long enough while many dads were forced back to work or had to take unpaid leave.
- Alongside the financial burden is the cost to parent’s health, with almost two thirds of parents reporting that their mental health had worsened as a result of the extra pressure
- Welsh and Scottish hospitals offer free parking. In England 87per cent of hospitals provide free parking for the parents of premature or sick babies. However, two thirds of parents reported that they paid for parking, as they were not told they could access it for free or at a reduced rate.
- More must be done to help families of premature and sick babies and Bliss wants to see maternity leave and pay extended for these parents as well as the publication of advice for employers on supporting them.
To help relieve pressure on families, Bliss wants parents travelling more than 20 miles to see their baby in hospital should have their costs reimbursed. They should also have access to free parking and accommodation so they can be near their baby at this very worrying time, as well as meals provided and access to childcare at the hospital.
Bliss Chief Executive Andy Cole said, “Whether parents receive the financial and emotional support they need when their premature or sick baby is in hospital should not be a game of chance. This is already an extremely stressful time for parents, but one thing they shouldn’t have to worry about is whether they can afford to be there for their baby. Bliss wants to see better financial support for parents without delay.”
Find out more about our report here.
Read more about it in The Guardian.