NHS Long-term plan promises investment into neonatal nurses and parent accommodation

Posted on January 07, 2019

Neonatal nurse stands next to incubator look at the instrument readings

On 7 January 2018 the NHS long-term plan has been published, setting out how health services in England will be structured and delivered to make sure they are sustainable for the long-term.

For neonatal services, which care for over 90,000 babies born premature or sick every year, the plan sets out that:

  • There will be more neonatal nurses and neonatal intensive care cots, to improve the safety and effectiveness of the service.
  • Families will be supported to be with their babies through investment into more parent accommodation.
  • Care coordinators in neonatal networks from 2021/2022 will work with families to be more involved in their baby’s care.
  • Some Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) will have their role expanded on the neonatal unit in order to support high quality care.

Bliss welcomes these priorities being put at the heart of the NHS’ long-term plan, following years of campaigning on these issues by us, our campaigners and partners. In 2015, Bliss research showed that there was a 2,140 neonatal nursing shortfall. We know that making sure neonatal units can meet Government endorsed nurse-to-baby ratios is important for ensuring babies born premature or sick have the very best chance of survival and quality of life. We also know that a lack of on-site accommodation for parents is one of the biggest barriers that prevents parents being actively involved in their baby’s care.

While it is welcome to see these issues focused on in the NHS long-term plan, it is important that more details setting out exactly how these ambitions will be funded and implemented are released as soon as possible.

Caroline Lee-Davey, Chief Executive at the premature and sick baby charity Bliss said: “It is very positive to see investment in neonatal care at the heart of the NHS long-term plan, with a clear focus on reducing mortality and improving outcomes for babies born premature or sick. Today’s announcements that more neonatal nurses will be recruited, and that there will be investment into accommodation for parents whose baby is in neonatal care, acknowledge that neonatal services are under severe pressure and need significant investment to deliver the best care for babies.

‘’This shows decision makers have listened to Bliss’ long-standing calls for a greater focus on the neonatal workforce, and on putting families at the heart of their baby’s care. We look forward to further detail soon on the specific financial investment to be made and the milestones for when and how these ambitions will be realised, and hope to see publication of the full Neonatal Critical Care Review in the near future.’’