A shortage of almost 3,000 nurses is putting premature and sick babies at risk, reports the Daily Mail. Ministers have admitted premature baby units have only two-thirds of the number of nurses they need to make sure babies get the care that gives them the best chance of survival.
The figures, which appeared in an internal NHS document yesterday, reveal there are just 6,605 nurses in premature baby wards in England. It’s estimated that over 9,000 are needed.
Around 68,000 babies are treated in hospital every year because they’re premature, and about a third of these need intensive care. Pressure on services has also increased, as there are now more babies being born every year.
Health minister Anne Keen says, “As a nurse I’ve seen the excellent care the NHS provides for premature babies. Having a sick baby is obviously very distressing, so we’re providing the NHS with guidance on how to make neonatal services even better.”
A spokesman for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health comments, “We urge the Government to ensure that the resources and funding needed are made available. Babies shouldn’t be denied access to one-to-one nursing care.”