Urgent action: Together for Short Lives supports new call from Bliss

Together for Short Lives supports the call from Bliss, the UK charity for premature and sick babies, for urgent action to address the shortage of staff in neonatal units across England. Research published by Bliss found that neonatal units are facing significant staffing challenges – nearly two thirds of neonatal units do not have the required number of nurses and over two thirds of intensive care units are running at higher than the recommended occupancy rate.

Together for Short Lives has highlighted the wider shortage of staff with the skills, knowledge and competencies to care for babies, children and young people with complex and life-threatening conditions in a representation to this year’s Spending Review. The charity called on the government to invest in education and training to meet the current shortfall and future workforce gaps. Together for Short Lives wants commissioners to consider the recruitment needs of the total workforce required to deliver care to seriously ill children, including neonatal services.

Katrina McNamara, Director of Practice and Service Development, said:

“This report from Bliss highlights a concerning shortage of properly trained staff to take care of seriously ill children. The majority of neonatal units in England do not have the nursing staff the government says is needed to be able to provide safe, high-quality care. This is putting vulnerable babies at risk.

The researchers also found that nearly a fifth of all transfers between hospitals took place due to a lack of capacity. The condition of seriously ill babies can change rapidly and I am deeply concerned that hospitals are forced to resort to transfers for non-clinical reasons. Travelling across the country also adds to families’ stresses during what is already a very upsetting time.

We wholeheartedly support the recommendations made by Bliss, calling on the government and NHS England to put together plans and funding arrangements to address the skills and training shortages outlined in this report.”

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