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Parents kept at arm’s length

Many sick and premature babies are missing out on bonding with their parents as the lack of hospital support keeps them away


Having a baby can be one the best experiences for dads; getting to know your child, taking them home, and forging a path for the future; there is a range of emotions, from nerves to excitement.

But, what if there is a problem and your baby is sick or premature, will you be able to make that important bond with your child?

Research from charity Bliss has found that thousands of parents have been prevented from having close involvement in the early stages due to a lack of support services.

The charity also discovered a “huge variation” and gaps in the provision of services across England, such as a lack of overnight accommodation, kitchen space, and financial support.

Bliss chief executive Caroline Davey said: “In many cases, the lack of the right facilities and financial support is keeping parents from being with their children when they need them the most. Government and the NHS must urgently address these deficits, and Bliss’ report lists concrete proposals that should be implemented immediately.”

With fewer than one in five neonatal intensive care units having enough overnight rooms for parents and a third not taking the cost of parking and food, many parents can struggle.

The charity has made a series of recommendations which they say will help parents be with their babies during their time of need, including plans to combat the shortage of accommodation, better facilities for parents and a call for a review into parking charges for parents.

Fiona Smith, professional lead for children and young people’s nursing at the Royal College of Nursing, said: “It’s vital that all services provide the facilities for parents to spend time with their babies in neonatal units, as their hands-on care improves outcomes for babies and families. It can also reduce the time babies need to spend in hospital, alleviating pressures on often-overburdened services.

“Rapid action needs to be taken so that all services, wherever they are in the country, provide the facilities that babies and their parents need during these very difficult times.”

The NHS are working with Bliss and other charities to help improve neonatal care, and have said that “no matter” the care of the child is important.

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