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Neonatal Network Northern Ireland marks World Prematurity Day – 17 November 2015


The Neonatal Network Northern Ireland will today join healthcare colleagues across the world in observing World Prematurity Day 2015.  This international day of observance, held every year on 17 November, raises awareness of the serious issues that premature babies and their families face.

To mark World Prematurity Day 2015 the Neonatal Network NI (NNNI) have launched the findings of an audit, ‘Regional Discharge Questionnaire: One Year On’, on the discharge questionnaire completed by parents of premature and sick babies who have experienced the treatment and care provided in the neonatal care units across Northern Ireland.

Welcoming the findings, Dr Clifford Mayes, Neonatal Network NI Clinical Lead, said “On behalf of the Neonatal Network NI, I am delighted with the positive feedback from this audit.  Parents have reflected an overall satisfaction score of 9.7 out of an overall score of 10.  This feedback is highly valued by the staff in our neonatal units.  The positive findings in this report are reassuring and reflect the importance of this challenging, but rewarding work.

“Listening to the views of parents helps to guide the ongoing development of better care and services for our premature babies and their families.  The report is timely as we recognise World Prematurity Day.  This opportunity to draw attention to the support these families need ensures that we continue to improve services and meet their needs.”

The ‘Regional Discharge Questionnaire: One Year On’ audit report was produced by staff at Queen’s University Belfast School of Nursing and Midwifery on behalf of the Neonatal Network.  The Network views the engagement of families as vital to improving neonatal services.  While the network comprises members from the five Health & Social Care Trusts, Tiny Life, the Public Health Agency and the Health and Social Care Board, it works with many other stakeholders such as Queens, SANDS etc to ensure appropriate engagement and participation with neonatal families.

Professor Fiona Alderdice, Chair in Perinatal Health and Wellbeing, Queen’s University Belfast, said: “The development of the Regional Discharge Questionnaire was led by Queen’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, in collaboration with the Neonatal Network NI and Tiny Life.  Our intention was to create a means of capturing parental experiences of care which would inform the work of the Network in meeting the future needs of these parents.

“Parents are invited to complete this questionnaire when their baby is being discharged from the neonatal care unit.  Based on similar audits from England, this provides parents with an opportunity to share their experience of the full range of neonatal care support.  This includes their views on communications, breastfeeding, emotional support, advice and reassurance, through to preparing for their baby’s discharge.  This report is based on the first year of data collection and provides a useful measurement and ensures parents can inform the development of future neonatal care services.”

Neonatal units at Altnagelvin Area Hospital, South West Acute Hospital, Craigavon Area Hospital, Daisy Hill Hospital, Antrim Area Hospital, the Ulster Hospital and the Royal Maternity Hospital participated in this regional audit.

Kieran Downey, Chair of the Neonatal Network NI, concluded: “The Neonatal Network NI, established to develop high quality services for premature babies and champion good practice, positions neonatal staff and families at the centre of neonatal services.  The information collated in the audit report provides the Network with a clear set of recommendations which enable us to build on and improve the province’s neonatal services.

“These findings demonstrate the contribution of the collaborative efforts of a wide range of professional groups and organisations, in improving the understanding of the needs of premature babies and promoting awareness of the high levels of care, treatment and support they and their families need.”

To mark World Prematurity Day, QUB School of Nursing and Midwifery have led, on behalf of the Neonatal Network, on the production of a series of short videos which raise awareness of the challenges faced by premature babies and their families.  To learn more about neonatal services and hear more about the moving story of Brian and Nicole on their neonatal experience at www.youtube.com/user/qubnursing.

To view the findings of the ‘Regional Discharge Questionnaire: One Year On’ report in detail visit QUB website at www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofNursingandMidwifery/Research.  Participate in the Neonatal Network NI World Prematurity Day Twitter Campaign by following the conversation at @qubnursing @tinylifecharity #neonatalni #WorldPrematurityDay.