City hospital receives first UK award for family-friendly neonatal care

The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Southampton’s Princess Anne Hospital has become the first in the UK to be recognised by national charity Bliss for delivering family-centred care for premature and sick babies.

In a ceremony held today (Monday), Caroline Davey, chief executive of Bliss, presented staff with a Bliss Baby Charter plaque and certificate marking the achievement, which follows a two-year audit process involving health professionals and parents.

The state-of-the-art unit, which has 36 cots, 20 intensive/high dependency cots and 16 special care cots, is one of the largest in the country, seeing around 750 babies a year from across Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire and the Channel Islands.

It was refurbished in 2006 to provide a bright, welcoming and spacious environment for babies and their families and offers a range of specialist services in neonatal medicine and surgery.

The Bliss Baby Charter was developed by the charity to help hospitals caring for premature and sick babies to assess the quality of care they provide, identify areas for improvement and recognise and reward excellence in the care delivered.

“The Bliss Family Friendly Accreditation Scheme has helped the team to focus on the care we give our families, as well as their babies, and to make the necessary improvements to provide the highest standards of family-centred care,” said Lisa Leppard, family care sister on the neonatal unit at the Princess Anne Hospital, part of the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.

“We not only work very closely as a multi-professional team within Southampton, but we also work collaboratively with our network of colleagues across the region to share best-practice.

“Here at the neonatal unit, we are passionate about the care our babies and families receive and to be the first unit in the country to receive this award is a real achievement of which we are all immensely proud.”

Ms Davey said: “I am delighted to recognise the ongoing dedication of staff on this neonatal unit to putting babies and their families at the heart of everything they do.

“Their approach has won them the first-ever Bliss Baby Charter accreditation but, more importantly, is making a vital difference every single day to all the babies they care for, as well as their parents and families.

She added: “I look forward to seeing other neonatal units around the country follow the example of the Princess Anne Hospital in achieving this mark of excellence.”

Mum Zuzana Moody, whose son Ethan was born prematurely at 25 weeks, is a parent volunteer assessor for the scheme and helped assess neonatal care at the Princess Anne Hospital by visiting and talking to families on the neonatal unit about their experiences.

She said: “When your baby is in an incubator, it can leave you feeling cut out of the picture, unsure of what to expect and there is very little you can do for them, but you are their mum and that’s a vital relationship which needs to be put at the heart of what doctors and nurses are doing.

“Parents need to feel that they can get information and support from NICU staff whenever they need it, as they do at the Princess Anne Hospital.”

For more information on the scheme, visit

Posted on Monday 23 May 2016