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Rhoda Grant MSP Helps Bliss Raise Concerns

20th June 2014

Photograph of Rhoda Grant MSP Helps Bliss Raise Concerns

Bliss Scotland raises concerns about crippling financial costs for parents of premature and sick babies.

Rhoda Grant MSP attended the launch of a new report looking at the financial costs faced by families of babies admitted to neonatal care in Scotland. The campaign is organised by Bliss Scotland, the special care baby charity, which provides support to families of babies born premature and sick.

The new Bliss Scotland report, ‘It's not a game: the very real costs of having a premature or sick baby in Scotland', is based on a survey parents and responses from 13 neonatal units in Scotland. The report found that:

Parents of a baby admitted to neonatal care face extra costs amounting to £2,045 during their baby's stay in hospital, averaging £218 per week.

Costs such as paying for food and drinks averaged £61 a week, while parents faced travel costs including petrol, averaging over £74 per week.

While the average distance travelled by parents to see their baby was 35 miles, some parents had to travel over 100 miles a day.

Over three quarters of parents reported that their household finances were worsened, while one in eleven couldn't afford to pay bills such as their rent or mortgage.

Alongside the financial burden is the cost to parent's health, with over half of parents reporting that their mental health had worsened as a result of the extra pressure.
Providing support and information for parents was also inadequate with only one in three parents being offered any information about the financial support available to them.

Rhoda Grant MSP said, "Having a baby admitted to neonatal care is an incredibly anxious and worrying time for parents. These extra costs only make the experience more stressful and parents should be focusing on their baby’s wellbeing not worrying about how they’ll pay the bills".

Bliss Scotland wants parents travelling more than 20 miles to see their baby in hospital to have their costs reimbursed. They should also have access to accommodation so they can be near their baby at this very worrying time, as well as having meals provided and access to childcare at the hospital.

Rhoda Grant MSP said, "I am delighted to support this Bliss Scotland campaign. More must be done to support families of premature and sick babies in Scotland and to help relieve the pressure on them. Simple steps like meal vouchers or help with accommodation can make a big difference, as can ensuring that parents get given information about what support is on offer".

Bliss Scotland Chief Executive Melissa Green said, "Whether parents receive the financial and emotional support they need when their premature or sick baby is in hospital should not be a game of chance. This is already an extremely stressful time for parents, but one thing they shouldn’t have to worry about is whether they can afford to be there for their baby. Bliss Scotland wants to see better financial support for parents without delay."

Bliss, the special care baby charity, is dedicated to ensuring that all babies born too soon, too small or too sick in the UK have the best possible chance of survival and of reaching their full potential. It does this by:
- providing practical and emotional support for families during an extremely difficult time, so they can give the best care to their babies.
- providing training and support for doctors and nurses, funding specialist Bliss Family-Centred Care Nurses in hos
pitals and funding research to improve the care of all premature and sick babies
- raising awareness of the issues affecting special care babies and fight for essential change within government and the NHS.

For more aabout BLISS go to www.bliss.org.uk

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