Families Kept Apart report

Mum sat next to an incubator holding her baby in her arms leaning on her chest

Our Families Kept Apart report revealed a widespread lack of facilities and support for parents at neonatal units across England.

Keeping families apart at this traumatic time and preventing parents from being closely involved in their babies' care despite strong evidence that premature and sick babies' health is improved when their parents are supported to take the lead in care such as through skin to skin care, breastfeeding and comfort holding.

Barriers to parents' involvement in their baby's hospital care

For babies born premature or sick to have the best possible chance of survival and good long-term health, it is vital that parents are there to support their recovery.

To allow parents to be the centre of their baby's care, the hospital needs to provide a range of facilities and support to keep parents with their babies; including support to manage costs and to stay close to the neonatal unit.

We have found huge variation across England, and this means not every baby will be able to be fully cared for by their parents, because their parents are not sufficiently supported to be with them:

  • One in seven neonatal units told us they are unable to provide any, or only very limited facilities or financial support to families
  • 40 per cent of neonatal units have no or very limited kitchen facilities
  • Fewer than one in five NICUs have enough overnight rooms for parents of critically ill babies
  • One third of hospitals now charge parents for parking, when they could previously park for free
  • One third of hospitals can't help parents with food and drink costs.

Read the Families Kept Apart report