Keep Me Close Appeal

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Derriford Hospital cares for babies born from around the South West who have either been born prematurely or with other life threatening illnesses. As the ward has the highest level of expertise and equipment, the ward cares for babies from all over the South West and babies are often transferred from other hospitals for a higher level of care when needed. Because of the nature of the babies we care for, the parents of the babies are encouraged to remain close by as, sadly, the lives of their children hang in the balance and we always want to ensure they are close by if we need to obtain approval for some treatment or in the worst cases, so that they can be with their babies in their final moments. During the time a baby is on the ward, we house as many parents as possible in our on-site accommodation. This is generally reserved for those parents who did not live in Plymouth so that they did not have a long travel in case they had to be involved in their baby's treatment or discussions with the medical professionals. As you can imagine on an Intensive Care Unit, conditions can worsen very quickly. Currently we are only able to house four sets of parents. Three of our rooms are double rooms while one has a single bed and a put-up bed for emergencies. The rooms share one toilet and one shower and a microwave for cooking meals. These are hardly the best conditions for parents to live in with mother's who have recently given birth and expressing milk for their critically ill children. As it stands at the moment, as there are only 4 rooms, it is also the case that only the parents of four babies from out of area can remain on the ward. Any further parents would have to seek expensive alternative arrangements. The hospital does all in their power to ensure that this does not happen but it can lead to the parents of the least-poorly baby being asked to leave the ward. This is likely to be the case with most parents eventually and most find it heart-breaking to have to leave their baby in the hospital when at a time then they may still be tube fed, totally reliant on a machine to assist him with breathing and weighing as little as 1lb in weight. It has long been the dream of the hospital staff to provide better accommodation for the parents of the babies they care for and to provide a greater number of rooms to enable all out of area parents to remain on site for the duration of their baby's care. These parents are dealing with an incredibly stressful time and creating a "home from home" would really help to take away a small amount of this stress by enabling life to remain as normal as possible under the circumstances.