Armstrong launches major neonatal report

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has launched a major joint report looking at neonatal services in Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Baby Report 2018, by the Bliss and TinyLife organisations, was launched at a Stormont event today sponsored by Ms Armstrong. It came as Ms Armstrong submitted an Assembly motion calling for extended maternity and paternity leave for parents of premature babies.

“Today’s event was important to bring together health care professionals, including staff from the neonatal units surveyed as part of the report, with parents and families of babies born prematurely, as well as MLAs.”

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA, who also attended the event, said the report was cause for alarm.

“More than half of neonatal units in Northern Ireland do not have enough staff to meet minimum standards and they are so short-staffed that time away for vital training is impossible,” she said.

“No-one should have to work under the conditions neonatal staff are working under and the impact on 1800 babies born premature or sick is hugely concerning. This is yet another example of where those with the biggest mandates are not taking on the responsibility that comes with those mandates. Vulnerable children are at risk as a result.”

Ms Armstrong said her motion, which will be carried forward when the Assembly is restored, would be an important move for affected parents.

“My motion calls for the extension of statutory maternity and paternity leave and maternity benefit for parents of premature babies. It will need the restoration of the Assembly to proceed but in the meantime and in the absence of functioning institutions, reports like this shine a light on vital issues, while providing a scrutiny role for the public.”

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