Transferring your baby to another hospital

Photo of an ambulance outside a hospital

Transferring a baby born premature or sick to another hospital is quite common. Units are very used to moving babies and will help you through the process.

Why is my baby being transferred to a different hospital?

There are a few reasons why your baby may be transferred. A health professional should explain why your baby is being moved.

Here are some common reasons:

  • If they need specialist care, equipment or surgery that is provided at a different hospital.
  • If your baby’s health is improving and they no longer need higher levels of care. At this stage they might be moved closer to home. This allows another baby to have access to the care your baby received when they were unwell.
  • To be moved to a unit closer to home if they no longer need specialist treatment at a unit further away.
  • Sometimes a unit becomes full. It may not have enough cots or staff to care for another baby. In this case your baby may need to be cared for at a different hospital.
  • For an appointment with a specialist doctor.

If your baby needs an operation they will need to go to a hospital that has a surgical centre. When the operation is over your baby will be moved back to the neonatal unit depending on their condition.

They will only be transferred when the neonatal team feel they are well enough for the journey. Sometimes, they might not return to a neonatal unit and could be cared for on a paediatric unit closer to where they had their operation.

We were moved to our local neonatal LNU. We felt scared at how the new unit would be. But we were shown exactly how they did our baby’s cares so we could be involved from day one.

Vicky, mum to Alexander

How will my baby be moved to another hospital?

Babies on the unit are moved by ambulance in a special incubator. A trained transport team of neonatal doctors and nurses will care for your baby throughout the journey and until they are settled in their new unit.

You should be offered the chance to travel with your baby, but this might not always be possible. If it is not possible for you to travel with them, you can discuss this with your baby’s care team and the transfer team.

They will talk to you about how you can make other arrangements and how they can help you with this.

What if my baby is moved to a hospital far away from home?

Your baby may get the care they need close to home, but this is not always possible. Your baby may need to be moved to a unit that is far from your home.

We know that it can be very hard to be far from your baby or home. It can be tiring and expensive travelling a long way to see your baby. You may be offered accommodation near the hospital if you are a long way from home, or help with the costs of travel or parking.

You can talk to your care team about what support is available to you for travel and accommodation.

If the mum who has given birth is also being treated in hospital, for example after a C-section, they might also be transferred to the same hospital to make sure parents can stay with their baby.

The information in this section is due for review in November 2025.