Medics trial video link of babies in neo-natal ward

Medics at a Scottish hospital are using an innovative new video scheme which allows parents to watch short clips of their babies.

Parents can watch short video clips of their baby in the neo-natal ward at the Glasgow Hospital for Children in Glasgow.
Parents can watch short video clips of their baby in the neo-natal ward at the Glasgow Hospital for Children in Glasgow.

The scheme, believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, is being trialled at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow.

Parents say the video clips offer reassurance and allow them to see what is happening when they cannot be in the neo-natal ward due to other commitments such as work or family responsibilities.

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Around 600 babies are treated at the hospital’s neonatal unit each year.

Dr Neil Patel, a neonatologist, said the idea came from a parent whose baby was being looked after on the ward.

“He told us how, in his own work, they used short videos to feedback to customers and he said it would be great if you could do that and send me a message about my baby, especially when I can’t be in the unit.”

Dr Patel said similar schemes using video streaming presented “challenges”.

“Short message we think is a really effective way to give parents an update on their baby but in some ways to draw them into the care of their baby as well,” he added.

“We’ve already had interest from other centres to use the system for the babies they look after as well - in Scotland and also in other parts of the UK.”

Senior staff nurse Emma Gallagher, who has been taking part in the pilot, uses a tablet to record short clips and send secure updates to parents.

“It’s great. When we find a good moment where we can video a baby, we just take that opportunity,” she said.

“Sometimes things happen at night-time that the parents don’t always see so it’s nice to capture a little video to show them what their baby is up to while they’re maybe sleeping or not able to make it up.

“It doesn’t take up any extra time because we wouldn’t do it if we were really busy and it’s something that we’re all very excited about and interested in. We want to support the families.”

Parents Sarah and Jack live half-an-hour away from the hospital where their baby, Sophie, has spent the first six weeks of her life and cannot always be in the ward.

Jack said waiting for phone calls from the ward made them anxious and distressed but the new video scheme offered them reassurance.

“It was really nice, really reassuring. It meant we could be here without actually being here.

“It’s nice to have a little memory, it’s much nicer than a phone call. It’s nice to just have a little memento.

“We’ll download them all at the end and we’ll have a video log of her whole hospital experience which will be nice to show her in years to come.”