On 1 April 2018, the Scottish Government launches a Neonatal Expenses Fund to help parents with the cost of food and travel whilst their baby is in neonatal care.
The £1.5 million fund comes after Bliss Scotland campaigning highlighted that parents in Scotland spent an average of £218 a week while their baby was in neonatal care.
The fund will allow parents or guardians with either premature or sick babies in neonatal care in Scotland to claim reimbursement for food and travel expenses. These expenses include:
- Up to 14p per mile for one return car journey each day per family
- Public transport costs will be reimbursed in full for one return journey per day per family. Standard class bus, train and ferry fare can be reclaimed upon production of receipts. Families living on the outlying islands of Scotland can claim up to two return journeys by air per week per family.
Parking and Tolls:
- Car parking and road tolls can be reclaimed in full on the submission of receipts. Some NHS Boards already provide permits for parents with babies in neonatal care – please speak to staff at your local hospital to find out whether a permit is available before asking for a refund.
Food and drink:
- Meal costs may be covered free of charge for one parent by the NHS Board. Please speak to staff at your local hospital to find out if you are eligible.
- For hospitals where this scheme is not in place, a reimbursement of up to £8.50 per day against food and non-alcoholic beverages can be claimed on production of receipts.
The Neonatal Expenses Fund signals the Scottish Government’s ongoing commitment to improve support for families with a baby in neonatal care. However, Bliss Scotland will continue to campaign to ensure that that action is also taken to provide accommodation for parents on neonatal units, an area that is not covered by the new fund.
Caroline Lee-Davey, Chief Executive of Bliss Scotland, said: “Bliss Scotland is thrilled to support the Scottish Government’s launch of this much-needed financial scheme to help families with a baby in neonatal care pay for travel and food costs. The Fund will help more parents spend as much time as possible with their baby and play a more hands-on role in their care, which we know is best for babies.”
“Bliss Scotland began campaigning on this issue after our own research found that the average weekly cost of having a baby in neonatal care is £218 across Scotland. This financial strain, at what can be a very emotionally difficult time for parents, makes it challenging for some parents to spend time with their babies whilst on the neonatal unit. We look forward to continuing to work with the Scottish Government to promote this scheme to families, and our Bliss Champion volunteers - who support parents on neonatal units - will be at the forefront of ensuring that all parents with a baby in neonatal care are aware of the Fund.”
“Whilst we acknowledge the great step forward in the provision of financial support in Scotland, we know that parents across the rest of the UK face the same financial challenges. Bliss will continue to campaign for change in England, Wales and Northern Ireland so that all families across the country can receive the same support.”
Coady Dorman, a mum from Lothian who helped raise awareness of our campaign, said: “The new Neonatal Expenses Fund will provide a lifeline to so many at such a critical, emotional and worrying time. As a former NICU parent, I know that you would be willing to spend every last penny, borrow money, and do anything to get to your baby. It’s only afterwards, sometimes several months on, that you start to experience the financial impact of this and it can bring brand new stresses and worries. I’m thrilled this has finally come into effect for all the future families.”
Find out more about the Neonatal Expenses Fund here.
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 Bliss (2014), It’s not a game: the very real costs of having a premature or sick baby in Britain