Newborns at risk

Lack of nurses leave babies 'at risk'

Babies who are in need of special care after birth are at risk because of a nursing shortage, a new report claims today.

The study warns that ‘significant’ shortages of trained nurses means that some baby units are so understaffed they have to close two new admissions at least once a week.

Most intensive care units attending to the weakest babies, did not reach minimum staffing levels, according to the National Audit Office. Whilst there is a vacancy rate of almost 10% – with 460 posts currently empty.

A third of units operated above the recommended 70% staffing level and three contravened the 100% level, meaning there were more babies in cots than staff to care for them.

The National Audit Office study says: ‘The higher the level of care you need, the less likely they are to be meeting standards. These high occupancy rates could have serious consequences for patient safety, due to the increased risk of infection or inadequate levels of care.’

Premature baby charity, Bliss, voiced its concern saying: ‘The report has found there is no strategic plan in place to manage this increasing demand.’

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