Parents of children receiving neonatal care understandably want to be with their children as much as possible during such a difficult and stressful time.
In England we have some of the best neonatal care in the world. Doctors in children’s hospitals work hard every day under challenging conditions, but I know that there is much variability in care and hospital services between hospitals and regions. I believe that it is time for the Conservative Government to rebalance the funding available to services in all regions.
The Department of Health's 2009 Toolkit for High-Quality Neonatal Services states that dedicated facilities should be available for parents and families of babies receiving neonatal care. I would like to see those units that currently offer the very best care spreading their expertise across the country. A sensible and co-ordinated approach is required from the Conservative Health Ministers, the NHS and local managers.
The charity Bliss does excellent work in offering emotional and practical support to families for the duration of their stay in neonatal care. Bliss also campaigns for better neonatal services for families to ensure that every baby born premature or sick in the UK has the best chance of survival and quality of life.
Bliss report that more than a third of all neonatal units in England do not have dedicated accommodation for parents of critically ill children. The Royal College of Nursing has said that it is "vital" that all services provide the facilities for parents to spend time with their babies in neonatal units as this can improve outcomes for babies and families.
NHS England's Maternity Transformation Programme is carrying out a review of neonatal services and a report is due in September. The Conservative Government has confirmed that the review has completed its data gathering stage and will be working with Bliss and other stakeholders to develop recommendations for service improvement, including the support and facilities for parents. I can assure you I will follow the report and its recommendations closely.