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Effect of a centralised transfer service on characteristics of inter-hospital neonatal transfers
  1. S T Kempley1,
  2. Y Baki1,
  3. G Hayter2,
  4. N Ratnavel1,
  5. E Cavazzoni1,
  6. T Reyes1,
  7. on behalf of the Thames Regional Perinatal Group and the Neonatal Transfer Service for London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex
  1. 1Barts and the London NHS Trust, London, UK
  2. 2Emergency Bed Service Manager, London Ambulance Service NHS Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr S T Kempley
    Neonatal Unit, Elizabeth Ward, Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, London E1 1BB; steve.kempley{at}


Objective: To determine the effect of a centralised neonatal transfer service on numbers of neonatal transfers and the time taken for teams to reach the baby.

Design: Prospective census of neonatal inter-hospital transfers between May and July 2004. Comparison with a previous census undertaken before introduction of the service. Analysis of requests for antenatal in-utero transfer to the regional emergency bed service.

Setting: Geographically defined area in London and southeast England.

Patients: Babies transferred to or from a neonatal unit.

Interventions: Introduction of a centralised neonatal transfer service.

Main outcome measures: Numbers of transfers, time taken for teams to arrive to the baby (response time).

Results: During the census there were 835 transfers with an increase of 34% from the previous census (n = 619). Most of the increase was in urgent transfers for neonatal intensive care. There was a mean of 4.4 urgent transfers a day, with 3.9 elective and 0.8 short-term transfers. Over the same period in-utero transfers decreased. Response times improved from a median of 2 h in 2001 to 1.45 h in 2004 (p<0.05). The 90th centile fell from 6 h to 4.9 h.

Conclusion: Following the introduction of a centralised neonatal transfer service, response times improved significantly. An increase in the numbers of transfers for medical intensive care was associated with a reduced number of in-utero transfers. To balance the improved safety and accessibility of neonatal transfer, similar developments may be needed to facilitate in-utero transfer.

  • infant
  • newborn
  • ambulances
  • neonatal transfer
  • transport team

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  • Published Online First 28 November 2006

  • Competing interests: None declared.

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