Bliss Scotland has called upon Holyrood to honour its pledge to urgently review its approach to expenses for families of babies in neonatal care in order to tackle the hefty price tag that Scottish parents are paying every week whilst their child is in hospital.
Research published by Bliss Scotland has revealed that the average weekly cost of having a baby in neonatal care is £218 across Scotland.
This includes: £61 on buying food and drink in and around the hospital, £74 spent on travel, and £81 for childcare for older children. Almost 80 per cent of parents said that having a baby in the neonatal unit had worsened their financial situation, with a third of parents saying the cost had affected their ability to be with their baby in hospital.
The charity claim while the health service in Scotland does have minimum requirements for units to provide support to families with accommodation, food and drink, these standards are still not being met, and in themselves are well below those seen across the rest of the UK.
Bliss Scotland is calling for the implementation of urgent, immediate solutions, as well as the delivery of longer-term recommendations made by the Government’s own The Best Start review and the Bliss Scotland Baby Report.
These include urgent intervention from the Scottish Government to provide financial support for parents who are on neonatal units today, who are facing increased costs as a result of their baby’s stay.
Swift implementation of the Scottish Government’s own pledge to urgently review expenses for families of babies in neonatal care in order to develop a long-term, nationally agreed policy.
Local reviews at a unit level of current facilities for families to make sure that they are enabling parents to be with their baby for as much time as possible.
Bliss Scotland say health boards should explore short term solutions such as meal vouchers, waiving parking fees, or partnerships with local hotels for accommodation if services cannot be provided on the unit and the level of family facilities that a unit provides to be a priority consideration for the Scottish Government when planning and implementing changes to the configuration of neonatal services in Scotland.
Broxburn resident Coady Dorman is among the parents who struggled with finances whilst her son was in hospital. Coady gave birth to Matthew at 29 weeks’ gestation in 2014. Coady was first admitted to St John’s Hospital in Livingston but was transferred to Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE) for an emergency c-section.
After she was discharged, Coady was not allowed to drive because she was recovering from her c-section.
She faced a two hour journey on public transport from her home in Broxburn to visit Matthew.
She said: “During the first week I had to rely on lifts from other people. I was grateful for the support from my friends and family but I had to arrange everything around their schedule rather than just going to see Matthew when I really wanted to. I wanted to be there all the time but that wasn’t an option and that is why I ended up going to the GP and asking if I could get signed back on for driving.
“Convincing the GP that I was OK to drive made things easier but there’s some women that wouldn’t have that as an option. For those who don’t drive at all it’s very hard. I know that when we were in ERI there was a mother I think from Paisley. Her little boy had been born very early and it wasn’t an option for her to go back and forwards to her home so she ended up having to stay in hotels and with family friends. I can only imagine how hard it was for her and I’m sure she’s not the only one.”