Bliss, the special care baby charity, provides vital support and care to premature and sick babies across the UK. They offer guidance and information at a critical time in families' lives. They also fund ground-breaking research and campaign for babies to receive the best possible level of care regardless of when and where they are born. There is a fundamental inequality in the way our most vulnerable babies are cared for in the UK. Clinical standards that set out how children and adults should be cared for in intensive care are complied with across the UK as a matter of course. There are similar clinical standards that describe how babies should be cared for in intensive care. These, however, have never been met. There are only a handful of hospitals across the UK that can provide the intensive one nurse to one baby care that our most vulnerable babies need and deserve.
The British Association of Perinatal Medicine published a document in 2001 that set out what they described as a minimum standard for the care for sick and premature babies. It outlined the following nursing requirements:
i) Intensive Care
Because of the complexities of care needed for a baby receiving intensive care, there should be one to one nursing. Occasionally when a baby is particularly unstable, for example with severe pulmonary hypertension, two nurses will be required.
ii) High Dependency Care
A nurse should not have responsibility for the care of more than two babies.
iii) Special Care
A nurse should not have responsibility for more than four babies who are receiving Special Care.
The NHS Neonatal Taskforce report, Toolkit for High Quality Neonatal Services, highlights the serious shortages of nurses needed to care for babies and their families. There is an identified shortfall of over 2,700 nurses and 300 supporting therapists. Many of the problems that exist in neonatal care stem from this shortfall. These include babies being...