Objectives: To determine the number and characteristics of inter-hospital transfers of newborn infants in London and the South East of England.
Design: Prospective census of neonatal transfers over a three month period.
Setting: Transfers between the 53 hospitals that provide care for newborn infants within the former Thames regions.
Data sources: Census returns from participating neonatal units.
Main outcome measures: Number, timing, and hours of staff time spent on transfers. Gestation, birth weight, and reason for transfer of the baby. Time elapsed between request and retrieving team departing and arriving with patient.
Results: A daily average of 2.7 urgent, 3.5 elective, and 0.7 short term transfers took place during the census period. The most common reason for urgent transfer was neonatal surgery. Neonatal unit staff spent an average of 21 hours a day off their units accompanying transfers each day. It took over four hours for 90% of ambulances to set off with the retrieving team and over six hours for 90% of teams to reach the baby.
Conclusions: During the census period, services for the transport of neonates in London and the South East of England involved long delays and used appreciable amounts of staff time. It is likely that a small number of dedicated neonatal transfer teams could meet the needs identified in this census more effectively than the 53 hospitals currently involved.
- transport team
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