Research by Bliss shows that hospital services for babies born premature or sick in England are hanging the balance, with dedicated, hardworking neonatal staff forced to cope with increasing demand with far too few resources. This means that units are unable to meet national standards for high quality and safe care, putting babies’ safety and survival at risk.
For the first time in five years, we have heard from neonatal units, transport services and parents across the country, to assess the state of neonatal care in England in 2015. What we have found is a service that is hanging in the balance and struggling to cope with increasing demand, and too few resources.
Our findings show:
- 2,140 more nurses are needed to care for babies in England. Three quarters of this shortage is because there is not enough funding from the Government.
- Two-thirds of units do not have enough specialist nurses
- More than 850 babies were transferred between hospitals last year because there was not enough space or staff at the unit they were currently in. Over 100 of these babies were ventilated
- 70 per cent of intensive care units are consistently caring for more babies than is considered safe
- Nearly a third of units can offer no psychological support to families.
Read our full report here
This is putting babies’ safety and survival at risk, and is impacting on their long-term development. Despite five years passing since our last comprehensive report on the issues facing neonatal services, our new findings shows that little has changed. Nurse staffing levels and occupancy levels (the number of babies being cared for at one time on a unit) remain persistent challenges and we’re deeply concerned to see such little progress.
In response to our report, we wrote an open letter to NHS boss Simon Stevens, which was signed by nearly 3800 people and endorsed by 16 other charities and professional bodies, urging him to review of funding levels for neonatal care so that services can meet the government and NHS' own standards for safety and quality.
Find out more about the challenges facing vital neonatal transport services across the UK in our separate transport services report
We have handed in our open letter to Simon Stevens, calling for funding levels for neonatal services to be reviewed. The letter was signed by nearly 3800 supporteres and attracted support from a wide range of professional bodies and other charities.
We will need your ongoing support to continue to press for change and commitment from decision makers to address the staffing and resourcing issues highlighted in our report. Stay up to date with our campaign as it progresses and how you can get involved by joining our online campaign network