Chris Heaton-Harris, MP for Daventry, attended Bliss’ parliamentary event on Tuesday 20 October 2015. The reception was organised by Bliss, the special care baby charity, to launch Bliss baby report 2015: hanging in the balance. The report shows that there is a severe shortage of neonatal nurses and doctors, meaning units are not meeting national standards on safe staffing levels for premature and sick babies.
Some of the key findings of the report:
In order to meet these standards* and give babies the best chance of survival and improved long term health, 2,140 more nurses are needed. The nurses that are currently caring for our most vulnerable babies do incredible work, but are being stretched to breaking point.
At 41 per cent of units, parents do not have access to a trained mental health worker, despite parents of premature and sick babies being at far greater risk of postnatal depression**.
One third of units were not able to provide overnight accommodation for parents of critically ill babies or those living many miles from the hospital. It is vital that parents are able to stay close to their baby as research shows that when parents are involved in their baby’s care it improves their development and recovery, and eases the pressure on health professionals.
Bliss is calling for urgent action from the government, the NHS and health education bodies to address these problems and ensure neonatal units have the resources they need to meet national standards for quality and safety.
Chris Heaton-Harris MP said: “These findings are very concerning and highlight that more must be done to ensure that the estimated 113 vulnerable babies born premature or sick every year to parents in Daventry have the best possible chance in life.”
Caroline Davey, Chief Executive of Bliss, said: “I would like to thank Chris Heaton-Harris MP for attending the launch of our Bliss baby report, and showing support for our issues. The government set out a comprehensive vision for neonatal care in 2009, with the publication of the Toolkit for high quality neonatal services. Six years on and we are falling further behind on critical measures of quality and safety, and the shortfall in funding means units are simply unable to meet these standards.
“This must be a wake-up call for policy-makers and healthcare commissioners to take action. This situation needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency, so that every baby has the best possible chance of survival and of having a full and healthy life.”