Neonatal care is a specialist area of care on which many babies and families rely. Over a period of time research has been carried out at NPEU on the organisation and staffing of neonatal care and provision for parents. Working with external researchers and Bliss - the premature baby charity, surveys have been carried out showing the mismatch and variation between recommended staffing levels and levels of staff in practice and the facilities actually available for both babies and parents.
In a national survey commissioned by BLISS in 2005 data collection focused on organisational issues, routine audit data and the parent experience in relation to several specific linked topics including neonatal networks, transfers and transport. Data were collected from neonatal units, network managers, neonatal staff and parents. The report was published as: Neonatal networks, admissions and transfers.
The Neonatal Taskforce was an NHS led group that was set up by the Department of Health on neonatal services and provision in England in response to the 2007 NAO report on neonatal services. A Neonatal Taskforce Workforce group aimed to describe workforce management and planning principles for neonatal care and to help inform this work, baseline data on the current neonatal workforce was undertaken by NPEU. The overarching objective was to enable the Neonatal Taskforce and DH to understand the current provision of neonatal services in England. The data from a 2008 neonatal staffing survey, addressing information gaps on staff numbers and configurations, were analysed to facilitate option assessments by the Neonatal Taskforce. A comprehensive report of summary statistics and findings on current capacity, workload, workforce planning, staffing levels, skill mix and outreach services was prepared to support the work of the Neonatal Taskforce in preparing 'The Toolkit for High Quality Neonatal Services' published by the Department of Health in 2009.
More recently NPEU collaborated with NCT, BLISS and the RCN on the parents of preterm infants 'POPPY' study which involved both quantitative data collection on units and qualitative data collection on parents whose babies had been cared for in neonatal units. A neonatal unit survey of communication, facilities and support for parents of preterm babies established what interventions units use to support parents of pre-term babies, particularly in relation to communication, psychosocial support and information, building on the previous surveys. The data collected established a useful baseline of policies, facilities, practice and care interventions with babies, parents and families and a report of the POPPY Study was published by NCT.
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