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Newborn babies on neonatal units put at risk by NHS cuts

Published on 17/10/2011

Women with private health insurance may be interested to know that more than half of England’s specialist baby care units in the NHS do not meet government minimum standards of care.

Whilst private health insurance does not cover healthy pregnancies, expecting mothers with PMI and their new-born babies would be covered for arising complications during the pregnancy and birth.

Bliss, a special baby care charity, recently used a freedom of information request to investigate 172 of England’s NHS neonatal units. The charity discovered that staff cuts in a third of these units were “significantly affecting the care of premature and sick babies”.

Last year, the charity claimed that 1,150 extra nurses were needed in these units in order to meet the minimum standards set by the Department of Health. These standards state that 70% of nurses and midwives in neonatal units need to be qualified in specialist care.

Bu instead of hiring extra staff, the charity’s latest findings showed that 140 posts had actually been cut. In addition, 450 nurses needed extra training, and one in ten units were failing to release staff for training because of budget cuts.

The charity also revealed that 20% of neonatal units are planning to make even more cuts to the workforce over the next year, in order to try to save the £20bn savings needing to be made across the NHS by 2015.

Andy Cole, chief executive at Bliss, said: "The government and the NHS must take responsibility now and ensure our tiniest and sickest babies receive the highest standard of care at this critical time in their lives."

Since pregnancy is not considered a disease, medical insurance does not cover hospital treatment for normal pregnancy and childbirth. However, women who already have private medical insurance for a certain qualifying period could be covered for complications of pregnancy and childbirth, as would their new born baby.

Compare private health insurance policies now to receive guaranteed private treatment in the future.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2011

Categories:  NHS and Hospitals
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