Reducing admission of full term babies to neonatal units

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

We want to reduce harm leading to avoidable admissions to neonatal units for babies born at or after 37 weeks.

We’ve identified that over 20% of admissions of full term babies to neonatal units could be avoided. By providing services and staffing models that keep mother and baby together we can reduce the harm caused by separation.

We want all maternity and neonatal services to work together to identify babies whose admission to a neonatal unit could be avoided and to promote understanding of the importance of keeping mother and baby together when safe to do so.

Why is this so important?

There is overwhelming evidence that separation of mother and baby so soon after birth interrupts the normal bonding process, which can have a profound and lasting effect on maternal mental health, breastfeeding, long-term morbidity for mother and child.

This makes preventing separation, except for compelling medical reason, an essential practice in maternity services and an ethical responsibility for healthcare professionals.

What we’re focusing on

Following a review of patient safety reports, neonatal hospital admission data and litigation claims data, we decided to focus on four areas of significant potential harm to babies. We believe these areas are where our work can have greatest impact:

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

While the main focus of our work is avoiding harm that requires admission, we’re also interested in improving care for babies whose care could have been managed at home or in the community without admission.

What we’re doing

Our work is led by clinical experts from a range of organisations and we’ll share insights, recommendations and examples of good practice to help deliver improvement across the healthcare system.

We’re currently developing resources to support NHS providers, healthcare professionals and parents to prevent avoidable term admissions.

If you would like to know more about our work, please get in touch.

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