Numbers of neonatal nurses are well below the nationally recommended levels according to new statistics.
Staffing levels at neonatal units around the country were measured by the National Neonatal Audit Programme (NNAP) for the first time.
They discovered only 21 of 53 neonatal intensive care units had half or more of their shifts with enough specialist nurses.
South London is ranked as one of the worst neonatal networks in the country, with only 43.8% of shifts meeting the staffing requirements.
It is only beaten by Staffordshire, Shropshire and Black Country with 42.8% of shifts sufficiently staffed, whereas the Isle of Man ranked as the best network with 81%.
INTERACTIVE GRAPH: NEONATAL STAFFING
As the graph above shows, St George’s Hospital had the best rate of shifts sufficiently staffed with 488 shifts out of 730 (66.8%) meeting the specification.
King’s College Hospital performed the worst, with only 135 shifts out of 730 eligible shifts (18.5%) meeting the specification.
This second graph shows that out of the South London providers with specialist staff, King’s College also had the lowest number of shifts meeting the qualified in speciality specification, with just 62 shifts out of 730 shifts (8.5%) meeting the standard.
INTERACTIVE GRAPH: NEONATAL SPECIALITY STAFFING
Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital was by far the best provider for meeting the specialist staffing specification, with 695 shifts out of 730 (95.2%).
Chief Executive of Bliss, the premature and sick baby charity, Justin Irwin said: “These findings add to the multitude of evidence Bliss has found in recent years which show that neonatal nursing is reaching crisis point.
“We are particularly concerned that there aren’t enough specialist nurses to care for the smallest or sickest babies who require one-to-one nursing to have the best outcomes.”
He added: “The new Government has said it will provide extra funding for 50,000 more nurses.
“These new findings demonstrate that the neonatal nurse workforce must be an area which benefits from this policy.
“Nurses do a brilliant work each and every day, but they remain permanently over-stretched while caring for the most vulnerable of patients – this simply cannot go on.’’
Feature image: ashton/Flickr