Preventing avoidable admissions of full-term babies

We are reviewing and updating these webpages to reflect the current work of the maternity and neonatal programme.

Analysis, findings and guidance on the preventable factors that lead to full-term babies being admitted to neonatal units.

Admission to a neonatal unit can lead to unnecessary separation of mother and baby. There is overwhelming evidence that separating mother and baby at or soon after birth can affect the positive development of the mother-child attachment process and adversely affect maternal perinatal mental health.

Preventing separation except for compelling medical indications is essential in providing safe maternity services.

NHS providers of maternal and neonatal care can use our resources to:

  • improve the safety of care
  • keep mothers and babies together whenever it’s safe to do so
  • identify local improvement priorities
  • develop an action plan to ensure any relevant resources are introduced into clinical practice

Background to our work

Improving the safety of maternity services is a key priority for the NHS and the number of unexpected admissions of full-term babies (ie those born at 37 weeks or more), is seen as a proxy indicator that harm may have been caused at some point along the maternity or neonatal pathway.

We focused on four key clinical areas that represent a significant amount of potentially avoidable harm to babies:

  • respiratory conditions
  • hypoglycaemia
  • jaundice
  • asphyxia (perinatal hypoxia-ischaemia)

We believe these areas are where our work can have greatest impact.

Learn more about our work on reducing admissions of full-term babies to neonatal units.

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