Financial costs facing families

Mum and her two daughters standing around an incubator touching a premature baby through the incubator

There are many things parents will worry about when their baby is admitted into neonatal care, whether they can afford to be there shouldn’t be one of them.

The cost-of-living crisis is hitting families hard - including families with a premature or sick baby in neonatal care right now.

In a survey of more than 1,900 parents, Bliss found families:

  • Spent on average £405 per week while their baby was in hospital
  • Lost nearly £3000 in income, on average, during their baby's stay
  • This extra pressure stopped more than half of parents from being with their babies as much as they wanted.
  • Run down savings, borrow money and increase their debt to be at their baby's side.

We need the Government to take action now by introducing a fund to support parents with common expenses - such as food & drink, travel and childcare. A similar fund already exists in Scotland and has been shown to help keep families together.

Without extra support, the reality is more parents will have no way to attend the unit and be with their babies as much as they want to be.

Will Steve Barclay MP stand up for babies?

We need the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to protect families from the cost-of-living crisis
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Why is this important?

Babies, and their families, have the best possible outcomes when their parents can be partners in care. This can mean:

  • Parents take the lead in caring for their baby - including changing, washing and feeding their baby.
  • Parents can lead on more complicated skills such as giving some medicines to their baby, or tube feeding them.
  • Doing skin-to-skin and comfort holding their baby
  • Working with the medical team to make shared decisions about their baby's care

Benefits of this may include:

  • Babies gain more weight
  • Earlier discharge home
  • Improved breastmilk feeding
  • Reduced pain during painful procedures
  • Better gross motor development at 4-5 years

This type of care also helps parents to feel like parents, and to support strong bonds.

But achieving these impacts relies on families being able to spend long, uninterrupted time with their baby - and costs limit this time for many families.

Help us get families the extra support they need.

Why is neonatal care so expensive?

Extra costs come from:

  • Parents needing to pay for extra travel to and from the neonatal unit - which can be far from home
  • Paying for food and drink on the hospital site
  • Paying for accommodation to stay close to the hospital
  • Needing to pay for childcare for older children who may not be allowed on the neonatal unit.

On top of this, many families find their household income drops significantly as they are forced to take parental leave and pay, or just take time off work unpaid altogether.

Will you take action to help families now?

How is the cost-of-living crisis affecting families right now?

In Autumn 2022, Bliss surveyed 168 parents about increasing costs. We found:

  • For families with a baby still in neonatal care, more than half said costs were affecting their ability to pay rent, bills or mortgage and 84% said it had impacted their ability to travel to and from the hospital
  • 3 in 4 parents whose baby had been discharged in the last year felt it was likely that the cost of energy could stop them from keeping their house warm this winter
  • Nearly half of families who said they were running medical equipment at home said they were concerned that the cost of energy might impact their ability to run this equipment in the future.

Cost of living crisis report

Read our report highlighting the impact of the cost of living crisis in neonatal care