Baby twins in hospitals 60 miles apart

PREMATURE twins are receiving specialist care today more than 60 miles apart - because there is not enough room for them both at Ipswich Hospital.

Russell Claydon

PREMATURE twins are receiving specialist care today more than 60 miles apart - because there is not enough room for them both at Ipswich Hospital.

Their parents are having to split themselves between Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge and Ipswich, after the latter admitted its facilities were too stretched to care for them both.

The couple, who do not wish to be named at this stage, are desperate to get their babies back together but now face a frustrating wait, with no date set, for a specialist cot to become free at Ipswich Hospital.

Last night the hospital admitted it was under extreme pressure and is trying to resolve the situation as soon as possible.

It comes in the middle of a specialist review, which began in July, being carried out around the region's hospitals into the level of neonatal services on offer and their capacity to cope with demand.

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The father of the twin boys, who were born 27 weeks premature, has to drive a near three hour round trip everyday at the moment to see his new family after the babies had to be delivered at Addenbrookes, rather than Ipswich, due to resources being overstretched at the time.

One of the twins has now been sent back to Ipswich after a specialist cot became free, but the other baby is still in Addenbrookes until another becomes available at Ipswich.

But Ipswich Hospital, which currently has 20 special neonatal cots, is happy with the facilities it posses and will continue to work collaboratively with other units.

Jan Rowsell, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said: “We are very proud of our neonatal unit but we have to work collaboratively with all the hospitals in the east of England to give every baby the best chance.”

Speaking of the situation with the twins, she said: “We were obviously very busy when the mum was about to give birth. And because we knew we did not have two cots available the mum went to Addenbrookes.

“One of the babies came back to us Monday and we are talking to Addenbrookes on a daily basis to bring the other baby back.

“We are extremely busy and extremely full in the neo-natal unit at the minute. It is the same picture across the country. There is a rising birth rate.

“But we are doing everything we can to reunite the twins.”

She said: “All the neo-natal units in the east of England and throughout the country work together very closely because there are times when demand for neo-natal beds outstrips supply.

“We are trying our best to plan for it but it is almost impossible to predict where the peaks will be.”

A spokesman for Addenbrooke's Hospital was not prepared to comment on the individual case without the consent of the parents, but said: “We have to make sure that our neonatal intensive care beds are available to the very sickest babies, so it is normal practice to transfer babies back to their local hospital when they are stable enough to be closer to home.”

An NHS East of England spokesperson said all maternity and neonatal units in the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire area are being assessed against national professional standards, which haven't previously existed. She said this did not put Ipswich's unit under the threat of being downgraded.

The first stage of the Ipswich Hospital neonatal unit has now been completed and recommendations from the NSC Perinatal Network have been given to the hospital.

But capacity will not be considered until the review is fully completed in December.