Chesterfield hospital reassures parents over neonatal staffing

Hospital bosses in Chesterfield have moved to reassure mums-to-be over neonatal staffing.

Thursday, 19th December 2019, 5:00 pm
Updated Friday, 20th December 2019, 10:23 am

National premature and sick baby charity Bliss said nurse staffing on neonatal units across the East Midlands is well below nationally recommended levels.

However, a spokesman for Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital on Chesterfield Road, Calow, said it seemed to be larger, city-based units that were affected and its unit was fine.

He said: “The East Midlands is a large area and at the Royal we have a relatively small neonatal unit compared with some of those in neighbouring cities.

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Chesterfield Royal Hospital
Chesterfield Royal Hospital

“We carry out safe staffing reviews to assess the levels of nurses, midwives and other care staff, that includes neonatal and midwifery, and can confirm our neonatal unit is fully staffed.”

Bliss said the annual National Neonatal Audit Programme, which measures staffing levels at neonatal units, found just 64 per cent of shifts are staffed according to national guidelines of one nurse to each baby receiving intensive care, one to every two babies receiving high-dependency care and one for every four babies needing special care.

The mortality rates in very premature babies – those born at 24 to 31 weeks – is 7.9 per cent in the East Midlands, compared with a national average of 6.8 per cent.

Justin Irwin, Bliss chief executive, said: “This report has found not a single neonatal network in Britain has enough nurses in post to meet the minimum standards for providing safe, high quality care – and that only a third have enough nurses with an appropriate specialist qualification.

“These findings add to the multitude of evidence Bliss has found in recent years which show neonatal nursing is reaching crisis point.

"We are particularly concerned there aren’t enough specialist nurses to care for the smallest or sickest babies who require one-to-one nursing to have the best outcomes.

“Today’s findings show how urgently funding is needed to grow the workforce, and retain the nurses working tirelessly within it.

"Nurses do brilliant work each and every day, but remain permanently over-stretched while caring for the most vulnerable of patients – this simply cannot go on.”