How MPs can help their constituents this World Prematurity Day

At Bliss, we are only too aware of what prematurity can mean for babies and families.

That’s why this World Prematurity Day we are raising awareness of the impact of having a premature baby by sharing what #PrematurityIs and what it means for babies when they are born too soon.

We need your help

As an MP, you can help us raise awareness of the experience of babies and families who receive neonatal care by:

  • Helping us raise the issues below in Parliament by raising them with Ministers and in the Chamber.
  • Watching our video and sharing on social media.

World Prematurity Day Video

Bliss’ priorities

A looming crisis in the neonatal workforce

The neonatal nursing, medical and allied health professional workforce needs to grow substantially over the next ten years to provide safe care in to cope with increasing demand on the service.

In England alone, there was a shortfall of 2263 neonatal nurses in 2016/17 to meet Government endorsed standards for safe and high quality care.

In addition to this already stark shortfall, the neonatal nurse workforce faces further looming crisis as a result of the aging workforce and increase in admissions onto units as a result of demographic changes.

Research has shown that when nursing ratios in particular are not met on neonatal units, this correlates with rising mortality rates.

We are calling on governments across the UK to address the immediate need for investment that neonatal services.

In England we urge the Government and NHS England to commit to invest in the neonatal workforce in the coming weeks as the long term plan is finalised.

Parental leave

For parents of babies born premature or sick, the experience is life changing.

Rather than taking their baby home shortly after birth, their baby is admitted to a specialist hospital unit to receive care that ensures they have the best possible chance of survival and quality of life.

How long a baby will stay in neonatal care can vary, but for those parents whose babies stay in neonatal for weeks and months much of their parental leave is spent on the neonatal unit, not at home bonding with their baby.

We are calling on the Government to support parents to be on the unit by enabling them to extend their maternity and paternity, or shared parental leave, to allow them to take care of their baby while they are in hospital without losing the time they would have had at home with their baby.

Ensuring all babies have their parents by their side in hospital

A shortage of facilities to support families on units means that many babies are missing out on crucial time with their parents.

Research shows 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.

One of the biggest barriers to families is a lack of overnight accommodation on or near the neonatal unit.

As a result, parents across the country are having to cut their time with their baby short so they go home to sleep.

More than a third of all units do not have dedicated accommodation for parents of critically ill babies who live many miles from home.

We’re calling on governments across the UK, NHS Trusts and Health Boards to ensure that families are kept together by making sure accommodation and facilities are provided for parents at every unit.

Get in touch

Let us know if you are planning on taking any action for your constituents this World Prematurity Day or to request further information about our policy priorities.
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