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‘Welsh neonatal services under strain’

7 July, 2016

‘Welsh neonatal services under strain’

Neonatal services in Wales are so overstretched that units are unable to meet national standards on safety and quality of care, a report has found. 

Bliss baby report 2016: time for change, launched today (7 July), found that only two out of ten neonatal units had enough nurses to staff all of their cots in line with national safety and quality standards.

And only two out of 11 neonatal units were funded to have enough nurses with a specialist qualification in neonatal care. All neonatal units identified difficulties with at least one aspect of nurse training and development.

Over half of units did not have enough medical staff to meet national standards, with shortages often present across all levels of seniority, posing a particular risk to units being able to provide a safe level of care.

Dr Mair Parry, officer for Wales for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said that the NHS as a whole was coming under increasing amounts of pressure due to worsening staff shortages, chronic underfunding and fragmented services.

She said that RCPCH research had revealed a high number of gaps and vacancies on rotas with paediatricians concerned at the ability of services to cope.

‘Babies in neonatal units are extremely vulnerable - they need and deserve the highest level of care. To do this, all neonatal units must meet the required service standards. This is only possible if they have adequate staffing levels allowing them to cope with the demand placed upon them,’ said Dr Parry.

She added that the RCPCH supported all the recommendations made in the report.

These include a call for investment in staffing, a requirement for the Welsh Government and health boards to ensure national standards for neonatal services are met, and more nurse training places.

Caroline Davey, chief executive of Bliss, said that it was clear neonatal staff were being spread too thin.

‘Without urgent action, the gap between the standards required and the care provided will widen even further,’ she said.

For more information and to access the full report, click here

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