Fears over hospital unit

IPSWICH Hospital's special care baby unit could be reclassified at a lower level, it emerged today.The East of England Strategic Health Authority (SHA) is looking at all neonatal units in the region with the intention of creating fewer level two units and more level one units - which do not provide as much medical care on site.

IPSWICH Hospital's special care baby unit could be reclassified at a lower level, it emerged today.

The East of England Strategic Health Authority (SHA) is looking at all neonatal units in the region with the intention of creating fewer level two units and more level one units - which do not provide as much medical care on site.

Currently Ipswich Hospital is a level two unit which means babies who need operations are mostly sent to level three units in Norwich or Cambridge, but others can remain at the hospital and receive high-level care from specially trained staff.

No decision has yet been made about which hospitals will be affected by the SHA's plans.

Prue Rush, spokeswoman for the former public and patient involvement forum, said: “I do hope they are not thinking about downgrading it because it would be very damaging for the hospital to lose another specialism.

“It is a good neonatal unit and we need a good quality neonatal unit in this area.”

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A spokeswoman for the SHA said: “The Ipswich Hospital neonatal unit is not being downgraded, it is being assessed against clear professional standards, set out by the British Association of Perinatal Medicine, for the operation of neonatal services at three different levels.

“All maternity and neonatal units in the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Perinatal Network are being assessed against these standards.

“The first stage of Ipswich Hospital's neonatal unit assessment has finished and the unit has welcomed recommendations from the Perinatal Network on how to maintain operating as a level two unit.

“This process is about strengthening the support required for the local women who will continue to give birth at Ipswich Hospital and ensuring the care delivered is delivered in a unit with the appropriate resources.”

Have you received excellent care from Ipswich Hospital's neonatal unit? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

The hospital's view

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital, said: “We are determined to do everything we can to maintain the service that we have here in the hospital.

“Demand for maternity services, not just here but across the country, is growing so we welcome a review of the services provided.

“We very much hope that we maintain our level two status.”

Neonatal unit levels

Level one: Special Care - Care given in a special care nursery, transitional care ward or postnatal ward which provides care and treatment exceeding normal routine care. Does not provide high dependency care.

Level two: High Dependency Intensive Care - Care given in an intensive or special care nursery which provides continuous skilled supervision by qualified and specially trained nursing staff. Provides short-term intensive care.

Level three: Maximal Intensive Care - Care given in an intensive care nursery which provides continuous skilled supervision by qualified and specially trained nursing and medical staff. Provides a whole range of neonatal care.

SOURCE: NHS

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