Nursing shortage hampers neonatal care

Shortages in nursing staff, a lack of cots and 24-hour transport are limiting improvements to the service at England’s 180 neonatal units, according to a National Audit Office report.

Every year around 60,000 newborn babies require some form of specialised neonatal care.

Report ‘Caring for vulnerable babies: the reorganisation of neonatal services in England' finds that only half of units met the British Association of Perinatal Medicine standard for high dependency care of one nurse to two babies.

Cots for the right level of care are not always available, resulting in units having to close and babies being cared for in the wrong places on occasions.

Neonatal transport is an essential element of networked neonatal care, but only half of networks provided specialist transport services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Death rates vary across England from 1.8 deaths per live 1,000 births in Surrey and Sussex to 4.8 in the South West Midlands.

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