Special care baby unit under threat

CONCERNED mothers have launched a campaign to save a high dependency neonatal unit which they fear could close.

Will Clarke

CONCERNED mothers have launched a campaign to save a high dependency neonatal unit which they fear could close.

A review is under way into the future of West Suffolk Hospital's Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU).

But angry parents fear that if the unit closes, parents of seriously ill newborn children will have to drive to centres as far away as Cambridge or Ipswich.

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Helen Rush, treasurer of a parent group which has just finished fundraising for a fourth incubator, said: “I've got a three-year-old son who went through the unit when he was born at 32 weeks.

“If this review had gone through then he would have had to be transferred to another unit. We would have had to have travelled to go and see him. It is stressful enough having a premature baby without travelling.

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“But it was great at the unit at the West Suffolk - we have nothing but praise for them. It almost feels like family there - it is a lovely place.

“What worries me is the impression I get that the decision has already been made and they going to get rid of the high dependency beds.”

Mrs Rush said the group would have to think about where they would send the new incubator if the was closed but she hoped public opinion would sway health chiefs views.

An NHS East of England spokeswoman said no decisions had been made: “We have said that every acute trust should have high quality maternity services and neonatal care. In our vision we have guaranteed that every acute trust will retain an obstetric unit and a co-located midwife led unit.

“The majority of babies requiring special care should be looked after close to their homes and every obstetric unit will have at least one short term intensive care cot for resuscitation and stabilisation.

“The Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Neonatal Network, supported by the local Primary Care Trusts, is currently assessing all maternity and neonatal units against these clear standards to ensure safe, high quality maternity services. No decisions have been made, and the NHS is committed to involving and engaging local people in the decision making process.”

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