This site is intended for health professionals only

Minister quizzed over neonatal care

Health Minister Ann Keen has been challenged over funding for neonatal care by soap actress Kym Marsh, who lost her son after he was born at 21 weeks.

The former Hear'Say singer met other parents of premature babies at Birmingham Women's Hospital on ITV's Tonight programme, after concerns over the staffing levels on wards that care for premature babies.

The 33-year-old, who revealed that her other son David had also been born early, said: "What was interesting was how everyone I spoke to said they didn't know why they'd gone into premature labour, why they had had their babies prematurely."

Marsh met Alexa Woodcock, whose four-year-old son, Finlay, has cerebral palsy because he was born at 31 weeks and five days and Kate Branchett, whose daughter Molly was born at 23 weeks and weighed only 562g.

The actress asked Mrs Keen (pictured) why money for research into early labour had not been ring-fenced by the government after NHS figures revealed there is a shortfall of 2,700 nurses and 300 other specialist staff in neonatal wards.

Mrs Keen said the government had launched a neonatal "tool kit" to look at the best way to treat babies and prevent early labour.

She added that the number of paediatric nurses increased by nearly a quarter from 1997 to 2007 and neonatal mortality rates are falling.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Birmingham Women's Hospital

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"Yes definitely. More money needed to look into prematurity and for caring for preterm babies" - Sian, Cardiff