Looking back on Little Bliss
Little Bliss magazine will celebrate its tenth anniversary in April. To mark a decade of our magazine for parents, we’ll be looking back at some of the most inspiring family stories and popular topics from our previous issues.
Issue 34, Spring/Summer 2015: Reducing costs to families
One year after the launch of the ‘It’s not a game’ campaign we speak to Phil Meredith about the changes made at his local hospital.
Last year Bliss released a report revealing that on average families of babies born premature and sick spend £282 extra per week while their baby is in hospital. This unexpected cost included daily travel, parking, food and childcare. Since then Bliss has campaigned hard to reduce these costs to families, arguing that parents will worry about many things when their baby is admitted to hospital, and whether they can afford to be there should not be one of them. Joining the campaign to reduce these costs is dad Phil Meredith.
“Being the Dad to two premmies, this campaign really struck a chord with me as it took years to pay off the debts I racked up when my daughter was born at 26 weeks and was in a hospital two hours from home. Then when my son was born at 25 weeks in 2013 it all hit home again. The Bliss helpline was a big help, it probably kept me sane and now that I'm a bit older and wiser I feel I can help raise awareness and bring the Bliss cause to more people,” says Phil.
When the campaign launched Phil approached MPs whose local neonatal unit was the Buscot Ward at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading. He spoke face-to-face with them about the experience of having a premature baby and showed them accounts of other constituents who had also been through the neonatal journey and incurred unexpected cost. Phil drummed up a lot of support for the campaign, including from his local paper and radio station.
“When we finally received confirmation that parents would be issued with a card for the hospital’s restaurant giving them a staff level discount on food worth 40-50 per cent, it was a great feeling. Parents need to be thinking about their baby’s welfare, not whether they can afford anything for lunch.”
Our ‘It’s not a game’ report revealed parents spent £32 every week their baby was in neonatal care on hospital car parking alone.
While parking reductions for parents of babies in neonatal care are available in more than half of all hospitals, the schemes are often hard to access, still very costly and with tough conditions attached. This isn’t fair and we’ve been campaigning for change.
In August 2014, the Government issued a set of ‘Parking principles’ to NHS hospitals telling them that parking should be free, reduced or capped for visitors who:
- Are visiting someone very sick
- Are visiting someone who will be in hospital for a lengthy stay
Parents with a baby in neonatal care are not just visitors – they are vital care givers to their child. It’s essential they are with their baby as much as possible.
We’ve been writing to hospitals asking them what they are doing to meet these new guidelines, and we’ve already had some great results. But we need to reach more.
If you can get involved in this campaign email your name, local hospital and postcode to firstname.lastname@example.org