Neonatal staff and what they do

Nurse sat at a table in a hospital writing notes on a paper document

There are different staff on the neonatal unit who will care for your baby and support you and your family. Different health professionals work as a team on the neonatal unit to look after babies born premature or sick.

The neonatal team

Different health professionals work as a team on the neonatal unit. You will see different faces looking after your baby, with staff coming and going on different shifts. You will probably get to know some of the staff, but it can feel confusing at first to know who’s who, and what their job is.

Use this guide to help you work out who’s who. Different roles wear different colours to help people know what job they do, but this can be different on every unit. Your unit may have their own chart of the staff on the unit, and the uniforms they wear.


Nurses provide most of the day-to-day care for your baby. They can answer your questions, show you how to feed and take care of your baby, and arrange for you to speak to the doctors.

Some nurses with further training are called advanced neonatal nurse practitioners (ANNPs) or nurse consultants. They often perform similar duties to doctors, and can supervise teams of junior doctors.

The matron or charge nurse coordinates your baby’s care.

Talk to the nurses right away if you are ever worried that your baby is in pain, or you feel something isn’t right.

Nurses can also help you with kangaroo (skin-to-skin) care and breastfeeding.


Doctors coordinate your baby’s treatment. They can answer your questions about your baby’s treatment, medical condition and progress.

Doctors who specialise in the medical care of children and/or babies work in a team that is led by a consultant paediatrician or neonatologist.

Surgeons work in a separate team of doctors, which is also led by a consultant. If your baby needs an operation, the surgical team will work closely with the other doctors.

You can ask doctors for a second opinion on your baby’s care.

Don't be afraid to ask the nurses again. With the help of the neonatal staff you'll soon feel confident caring for your child and get into your own routine.

Laura, mum to Jaxson

Other staff you might meet on the neonatal unit

All units have different staff, depending on the level of care that needs to be given. Ask your unit staff if you want to find out more about the people listed here.

Nursery nurses

In some units, nursery nurses contribute to the smooth running of the unit by supporting the nurses with a number of different tasks.

They work with other members of the neonatal team.

They also often work with the community outreach or discharge team to help parents and babies prepare for going home.


Pharmacists look after your baby’s medicines.

They can tell you what medicines your baby is taking and provide information about the benefits and possible side effects.


There are different types of therapists that specialise in different parts of your baby’s development.

Physiotherapists and occupational therapists are trained to help with your baby’s physical and social development.

Speech and language therapists are trained to assess your baby’s ability to feed and swallow.


Dietitians make sure that your baby gets the best nutrition possible.They can explain what nutrition your baby needs.

Ophthalmologists and auditory technicians

These members of staff will check your baby’s eyes and ears.


You will meet these staff members if your baby needs an X-ray or scan.If your baby needs an ultrasound this will be carried out by a consultant who specialises in X-rays and scans.

Students and trainees

You may meet newly-qualified doctors who have just finished medical school, medical students or nursing or midwifery students.You should always be asked whether you are happy for students to watch and learn from the health professionals providing care for your baby.

Psychotherapists, psychologists and counsellors

These professionals can help you to talk about how you are finding your time on the neonatal unit. Looking after your own needs on the unit, as well as your baby’s, is very important. Your unit can provide you with details of someone who you can talk to.

Community neonatal nurses/discharge nurses

Some units might have dedicated staff to help you through the process of leaving the unit, and adapting to your baby’s care at home.

Social workers or family support workers

These members of staff can support families and carers with emotional and practical needs . This may include advice and support around the cost of having a baby in hospital, and adjusting to the hospital environment.

Porters and cleaners

The members of the team who keep the day-to-day maintenance of the unit running, and clean the unit and equipment.

Clerical staff

Members of the team who manage the office work of the department.

Faith leaders/chaplaincy team

Some parents find it helpful to speak to a member of the hospital’s chaplaincy team. This team provides support from members of many different faiths. If you would like a visit, ask a nurse if this can be arranged.

The information in this section is due for review May 2021