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Baby Units

Volume 932: debated on Monday 16 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many special care baby units were operating at the latest date for which figures are available; and of these, how many were able to measure, respectively, environmental oxygen and arterial oxygen.

In 1975 there were 254 hospitals in England with special care baby units. I regret that the other information requested is not available centrally.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the average number of cots in special care baby units; and if he is satisfied that the units are of a size to provide optimum care.

The average is 15ยท7 cots. The Report of the Expert Group on Special Care for Babies (DHSS Reports on Public Health and Medical Subjects No. 127, 1971), a copy of which is in the Library, set out the advantages of special care baby units of sufficient size. Health authorities will best be able to determine the size of unit required in a particular place, although units of less than 10 cots will rarely be justified.

asked the Secertary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied that the staffing levels in special care baby units have improved since the review undertaken by the working party on the prevention of early neo-natal mortality and morbidity; and if he will make a statement.

The improvement of standards of special care for the new born is one of my Department's priorities, and Circular HC(76)40, issued last August, asked health authorities to review their services for the new born in the light of the Report of the Working Party on the Prevention of Early Neonatal Mortality and Morbidity, which was annexed to the circular; and of the earlier Report of the Expert Group on Specal Care for Babies. The circular suggested that health authorities would wish to consider levels of staffing as part of the review. All regional health authorities have confirmed that they are reviewing services for the new born as requested in the circular.