We have been campaigning for better support for babies who are born too soon, too small or too sick, since Bliss formed over 35 years ago. Our first major campaign involved Bliss campaigners pushing an incubator up Downing Street to deliver a petition to Government, urging them to invest £25 million in neonatal services.
Since that first action, we have continued to call on the Government to invest in neonatal services so every baby can have the best start in life. Just as Bliss has grown since 1979, so has the size and scope of our campaigning activity. No longer do we just focus on campaigning for better equipment: we have campaigned on issues from family support services to flexibility on school starts for premature children, from campaigning for more specialist nurses to greater financial support for families.
- Securing over 3,700 signatures to our open letter to NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens calling for a review the payment system for neonatal services to address the true costs of providing neonatal care, and that any shortfall in funding is addressed.
- Acknowledgement by NHS England that Bliss’ report on services in England was a key driver in their decision to undertake a national neonatal National Neonatal Services Pathway Review, which is being taken forward by the neonatal Critical Care Clinical Reference Group and will look at safety and sustainability of neonatal services, including the payment system. Bliss has also been asked to play a key role in this review.
- In Wales, less than a week after our Bliss baby report was published the First Minister announced his expectation that neonatal services would be properly staffed in line with national standards by 2021, and Bliss will soon be meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Health to discuss what action the Welsh Government is undertaking to address the issues highlighted in Bliss’ report.
- After the launch of our It's not a game campaign in early 2014, we secured a commitment from the Department for Business, Innovations and Skills to review how their policy on parental leave is working for parents whose babies are admitted to neonatal care.
Our It's not a game campaign also added to the momentum building on a campaign to end hospital car parking charges, leading to Government guidance being released to NHS Trusts saying that hospitals should be offering free or reduced parking to anyone visiting a long-term or very ill patient.
After many years working with the Department for Education to highlight the challenges that many parents face when requesting a flexible start to school for their premature born child, the revised school admissions code published in December 2014 recognised prematurity as a reason why a child may benefit from delaying their entry to school.
Following the work of our SOS campaign on the shortage of specialist neonatal nurses, the Government committed to collecting and publishing statistics on neonatal nurses for the first time, and locally NHS Trusts told us about changes they were making to train more nurses in the future.
Following the publication of the Coalition Government's plans to reform the NHS in 2012 we successfully campaigned for all three levels of neonatal care (special care, high dependency and intensive care) to be commissioned as one specialist service, meaning babies and families can have consistent care wherever their neonatal journey starts, and wherever it takes them.
We continue to work hard to improve care and support for premature and sick babies and their families.
Campaign with us