A new report from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has found that more than 40 per cent of neonatal units in Scotland were forced to close their doors to new admissions because of staff shortages in the 12 months to October 2016.
Of the 12 units that responded to the RCPCH survey, five units stated that they were unable to take in new admissions due to concerns over staffing. Units in Scotland had to close on average 8.3 times, compared to 3.8 times across the rest of the UK. One neonatal unit in Scotland had reported having to close 73 times.
In response, Caroline Lee-Davey, Chief Executive at Bliss Scotland said: "This report illustrates the desperate need for more medical staff at neonatal units across the country to ensure that every baby born premature or sick receives the best possible standard of care.
"Bliss Scotland’s Baby Report, released in January, also found that significant extra resources are needed to ensure the sustainability of neonatal services. Our research found that two thirds of neonatal units in Scotland do not have enough medical staff to meet standards, and also that three quarters of units have a shortage of neonatal nurses. This new report from the RCPCH further demonstrates the urgent need to invest in the service to ensure that all babies receive excellent neonatal care.
"Bliss Scotland supports the RCPCH’s calls for the Scottish Government to take swift action to address this, and we would urge the Government to use the implementation programme for its own Five Year Forward Plan for Maternity and Neonatal Care, the Best Start, to do so."
The State Of Child Health – Short Report Series: Focus on Scotland was released on 17 August 2017. The RCPCH has carried out a census of paediatricians and child health services every two years since 1999. Data collection was launched on 30 September 2015 and closed in summer 2016. Read a pdf version of the report.
The Bliss Scotland Baby Report 2017 also showed that neonatal services in Scotland do not have enough doctors or nurses to meet standards, and that there's not enough support available to keep parents with their baby.