Staff shortages are stretching care for babies to breaking point, a report has claimed.
The report, by baby charity Bliss, said units being forced to work at maximum occupancy is affecting the way care is delivered.
Specialist baby units are only supposed to have occupancy levels of no more than 70% on average. But, the latest report shows that just one in five intensive care units met this standard, while a third of all units had reached 100% capacity or more.
According to the report – between 2006 and 2007 – 160 more nurses were recruited to neonatal units but there still remains a shortfall of 1,700 nurses.
The latest report analysed responses from 194 of the 213 hospitals with a neonatal unit in the UK, looking at their activity between 1 April 2007 and 1 September 2007.
Bliss found that only one in five met all of the regulations set down by the British Association of Prenatal Medicine.
Andy Cole, chief executive of Bliss, said: “Staffing shortages are all too apparent on units and the care of our most vulnerable babies is being compromised.”
A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “There is no evidence that neonatal services are unsafe.”
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