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Neonatal Units Not Protecting the Most Vulnerable Babies

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Over half of special care baby units In England do not even meet minimum government standards according to a survey by the charity Bliss.

The charity, fund-raisers for specialist care for babies, found that cuts in staffing levels in over 30% of the country’s 172 neonatal care units was “significantly affecting the care of babies.”

According to the Department of Health, at least 70% of midwives and nurses working within neonatal settings should be fully qualified in providing specialist care, but over half of units did not reach this target.

What’s more, units claimed they could not let staff go for vital staff training because of budget cuts. In addition, the report suggested that a fifth of neonatal units intended to make further cuts via pay cuts, redundancies and vacancy freezes over the next 12 months.

Chief Executive of the charity Bliss, Andy Cole, commented, “The government and the NHS must take responsibility now and ensure our tiniest and sickest babies receive the highest standard of care at this critical time in their lives.”

Nursing executive director of the Royal College of Nursing suggested, “At a time when extra nurses are needed to meet even the most basic standards of neonatal care, some [NHS] trusts are making reckless cuts to posts.”

She went on to add that adequately funded strategies needed to be implemented to employ and maintain more nurses trained in key specialist areas.

Anne Milton , the Health Minister stated, “Although it is encouraging that neonatal mortality rates continue to fall, there is still more to do.”

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