Open letter to Simon Stevens

Bliss Chief Executive and Campaigns Manager posing with posters containing findings of 2015 Bliss baby report

Our Bliss baby report 2015: hanging in the balance laid bare severe staffing shortages – including nurses, doctors and the full range of professionals needed to deliver safe care to premature or sick babies in England.

That’s why we - together with 16 professional bodies and charities and nearly 3,800 supporters - wrote to NHS England boss Simon Stevens, calling for a review of funding levels for neonatal care so that services can meet the government and NHS's own standards for safety and quality.

"I would like to say a huge thank you to all the thousands of supporters who joined with us in signing this letter, including over 500 neonatal doctors, nurses and other medical professionals and the thousands of parents and others whose lives have been touched by neonatal care.

I would also like to thank every organisation who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us by backing our letter. Today we have demonstrated that there is huge support for these needs to be met."

Bliss Chief Executive, Caroline Davey

You can read our open letter to Simon Stevens below. To make sure you never miss out on important news affecting neonatal services, make sure you’re signed up to our campaigns network.

Open letter to Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England

Dear Simon Stevens

Every year more than 77,000 babies are born in England needing specialist neonatal care. The care that these babies receive in their first hours, days and weeks of life is critical to their survival and life-long health.

However, Bliss’ new report shows neonatal services under severe pressure. It highlights a grave shortage of nurses, doctors and the full range of professionals needed to deliver safe care of the quality that these vulnerable babies need and deserve.

Underpinning all of these pressures is one recurrent theme: a lack of adequate funding for services to meet the national standards set out by the Department of Health and NHS in the Toolkit for high quality neonatal services in 2009. Six years on, and most services are no closer to meeting these standards.

We welcome the work being done by NHS England and partners to review the payment model for neonatal services, and the priority being given to this in next year’s NHS plans (as set out in NHS England’s Commissioning Intentions 2016/17 for Prescribed Specialised Services). This work to encourage the provision of the right care for babies, in the right place, at the right time is vitally important - however we are deeply concerned that the scale of the challenge facing neonatal services is such that this goal cannot be achieved within the current funding levels identified.

We are calling on you to ensure that your review of the payment system addresses the true costs of providing neonatal care in line with the government and NHS’s own quality standards, and any shortfall in funding is addressed.

If we invest properly in services for premature and sick babies today, we will reduce the care needs of these children in the future, delivering savings over the long term.

Bliss’ report must be a wake-up call to take action, and we urge you to work with ministers, policymakers and commissioners to deliver the plans and investment needed to make this happen.

Endorsed by:

  • Action on Pre-Eclampsia
  • Antenatal Results and Choices
  • BAPM
  • Child Bereavement UK
  • The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust
  • Group B Strep Support
  • The Lullaby Trust
  • NCT
  • Neonatal Nurses Association
  • Royal College of Midwives
  • Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
  • Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
  • Sands
  • Together for Short Lives