Neonatal Intensive Care Services
In North Wales, there are around 7,300 births per year.
All of the three acute hospitals provide neonatal services for babies who need some support following birth. These may be babies born early, or babies born when due but who have a difficult delivery or become unwell in the first few days. All three hospitals will continue to provide initial stabilisation and immediate short-term intensive care as well as Special Care Baby Units and high dependency units. However, some babies need longer term intensive care and this should be provided in a larger neonatal intensive care unit. The number of babies in North Wales who will need this level of longer term care will be around 36 each year.
At the moment, longer term neonatal intensive care is provided at both Glan Clwyd and Wrexham Maelor. However, some babies have been cared for at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral.
There are national standards for neonatal services, in Wales and the UK. Our services do not meet these intensive care standards and there are particular difficulties with staffing levels. To set up a single large neonatal unit in North Wales would be difficult in terms of recruiting sufficient staff and very challenging financially.
We have been looking at ways to address this problem. The clinicians’ preference is to develop a service in North Wales, because of benefits this would bring in terms of access. The Board has considered this but as described above, there are significant challenges in recruiting enough highly specialist staff. There is a shortage of specialists across the UK and there are increasing costs on providing this care for a small number of very sick babies.
Our proposal therefore is for all longer term neonatal intensive care to be provided from Arrowe Park Hospital because we believe they can provide good quality sustainable services into the future. This includes accommodation for families on site.
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Last updated: 17/08/2012