Department of Health and Social Care
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New Guide to Improve Neonatal Care - Embargoed Until 04/11/09 00:01

New Guide to Improve Neonatal Care - Embargoed Until 04/11/09 00:01

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 03 November 2009

The Department of Health is today publishing new guidance to help the NHS improve the care provided for premature and sick babies during their first days.

The NHS has made great progress in caring for babies with the lowest infant mortality rates and NHS neonatal services now care for over 60,000 babies a year.

Babies who are born prematurely, or have a low birth weight, require very specialised care in their first hours and days. A Neonatal Taskforce was established to identify ways of further improving services to offer the best neonatal care possible. Experts from baby charity Bliss and specialist NHS staff have helped to develop the Neonatal Toolkit to share its findings and guidance with the NHS.

While England remains one of the safest places in the world to give birth, the Taskforce has recommended that neonatal care become more family-centred to ensure the psychological as well as physical needs of babies and families are considered. The Toolkit they have created provides practical advice on how to improve the areas that really matter to parents including:

* making sure the right staff are on hand at the birth

* managing high-risk pregnancies to make sure babies are born in the best place

* improving transfers between services where necessary

Health Minister Ann Keen said:

"As a nurse I’ve seen the excellent care the NHS provides for small and premature babies, and the doctors and nurses working in neonatal care should be proud that more babies than ever before are surviving.

"Having a sick baby is very distressing for parents at what should be one of their happiest moments. That’s why we’re providing the NHS with practical guidance on how to make neonatal services even better and take a family-centred approach to care. To ensure this Toolkit makes a real difference to neonatal care I have also asked to have ministerial oversight of its implementation."

Neonatal services have been boosted in recent years with the establishment of neonatal networks. The networks ensure joined-up care in each area and have helped to increase the number of neonatal beds and staff across England. The Neonatal Taskforce was established last year to identify and deliver further improvements to services. The Taskforce will continue to support the NHS to introduce the recommendations made in the Toolkit and ensure it has a significant impact on neonatal care.

Notes to Editors

For further information please contact the Department of Health press office. The Neonatal Toolkit can be found at:


Department of Health
Phone: 020 7210 5221

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