Burnham-On-Sea couple to be focus of ITV1
baby documentary show
Burnham-On-Sea couple who were forced to have their baby in Basingstoke
rather than a local hospital because no beds were available will
push for change by appearing on an ITV1
current affairs programme this week.
many parents, caring for a newborn baby is one of their most rewarding
experiences - and it can also be one of their most challenging.
Healthy full-term infants can cause enough stress as parents learn
to cope with their babies' demands. But imagine if your baby was
born prematurely and then separated from you by the walls of an
and Jo Slator's son, Cohen, pictured above, was one such infant.
Going into labour eight weeks early was bad enough. But then Taunton
- one of the nearest hospitals
Burnham - delivered another surprise.
I went into labour all the incubators were full up in the special
care baby unit,"
Jo tells ITV West's West Eye View.
they had to then find me the nearest unit that could take Cohen
and myself and, unfortunately after trying a lot of hospitals,
they managed to find me one, but it was in Basingstoke."
Jo was sent outside the region to have her baby because the neonatal
unit at Taunton's Musgrove Park had been operating 24 hours a
day, seven days a week - at full capacity. In hospital jargon
this is known as an 'inappropriate transfer.' It was certainly
inconvenient - Jo was 120 miles from home.
arrived in Basingstoke on my own. My husband had to actually come
separately because he wasn't allowed to travel in the ambulance.
So I didn't realise I was there for the long haul. As far as we
knew I was going back to Taunton on the Monday and I would have
the baby there," said Jo.
was born later that day and was rushed into intensive care. Jo
asked for them to be sent back to Taunton but her local hospital
remained full. Cohen spent the next month in Basingstoke Hospital.
Cohen grew stronger he was taken out of intensive care and moved
into a high-dependency cot where he could breathe on his own.
Then his health deteriorated unexpectedly.
the third week Cohen had seizures and had convulsions in the night,
which was very traumatic. I was there fairly nearby in my room
sleeping, and I had to go in and witness my baby, who was still
blue and just been resuscitated, in a terrible state."
nurses advised me to get Ian, my husband, there immediately because
Cohen would probably not make it, and all I could think was that
it was a two-hour drive. Which I can not imagine what that must
feel like to go through. Just awful."
Ian and Jo's healthy son survived and is now back at home, but
the memories are not fading quickly.
by the West Eye View team revealed evidence that premature
and sick newborn babies in the West country may not be getting
the care they need.
premature baby charity, BLISS, says special care baby units across
the country are struggling to cope with demand. Babies are routinely
transferred from the hospital where they are born to other units,
dozens or even hundreds of miles away, adding to their difficulties
and their parents' anxiety.
chief executive Rob Williams, pictured above, says neonatal services
are under-resourced, over-stretched and slow to respond to innovation.
"If a baby goes into a unit which is half-full it has a 50%
less chance of dying than a baby who goes into a unit that is
90-100% full. There is a direct link between how many nurses you
have and how many babies will survive and go on to lead successful
lives," he says.
peri-natal death rates in Britain are 20% higher than the average
for Western Europe as a whole. BLISS campaigns for British babies
to have an equal chance to survive and thrive as those born elsewhere
Steve Jones, the consultant neo-natologist heading up the Western
Neo-natal Network, pictured below, tells the programme that he
regrets the need to transfer pregnant mothers and premature babies
because units are full up.
effectively needs to be in more frontline staff and you can see
the investment we've had we spend on consultants and nurses and
we do need more. We have put in a bid for nurses, not least to
provide our dedicated transport team," he says.
region has asked the Government for extra money to fund a dedicated
ambulance and the staff to run it. If money is forthcoming the
transport service could be up and running by next summer.
2003 the government undertook a review of neo-natal intensive
care. In response to the findings it pledged £72 million
to help to save the lives of up to 300 babies each year. West
Eye View will reveal how this region has spent its share of the
requests by West Eye View to the eight hospital trusts in the
Western Neo-natal Network, the Department of Health's new neo-natal
structure, expose the regional picture of a service in crisis
during the months of June and July this year.
by BLISS shows that many neo-natal units were full up or at 90%
capacity for most of the time. One criticism levelled at the government
by BLISS is that it doesn't know how well or badly the neo-natal
Care Minister Liam Byrne said: "I don't know how frequently
it happens." He adds: "The challenge in getting these
networks right is that on any given day there'll be 110 babies
born that need intensive support. Getting the right cots and the
right nurses in the right place is a difficult job. And a lot
of NHS staff work extremely hard on getting those decision right.
Is it perfect? No it isn't. And that's why more money is needed
and that's why more work is needed to get the service to the standard
that we want."
Eye View will be broadcast on November 8th at 7.30pm
West Eye View Web site