Health Innovation Kent Surrey Sussex supported Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust with a project to encourage staff to put forward innovative project ideas for funding provided by the Royal Surrey charity. These ideas had to show patient benefit and prove impact within 12 months. Bid for Better has now run for two years with over 25 innovative projects funded. The Neonatal Community outreach project is an idea from year one of Bid for Better, which started in July 2022.
Royal Surrey includes an outstanding-rated maternity unit and a Level 1 Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) which provides care for premature babies born between 34-37 weeks gestation and babies who are born sick and require close monitoring or investigations.
Babies who are born early have different needs from those born at full term, and this remains the case even when they have been sent home from hospital in good health. For example, if they have feeding problems or become unwell, they are more likely to develop serious symptoms more quickly.
However, after discharge from hospital, it can be difficult for families to quickly access specialist advice, support and care. This results in a high number of babies returning to hospital and readmissions, as well as some babies not getting the right care in time and, in rare cases, these delays can be fatal. In 2021, 67% of SBCU discharges at Royal Surrey had an emergency hospital contact post discharge.
The Bid for Better project allowed for funding to trial setting up a Neonatal Community Outreach Team (NCOT) with a new role of neonatal support worker who is the first point of contact for parents of babies discharged from SCBU. This provides reassurance and education for new parents and enables symptoms to be picked up and addressed early. In addition, it allows for some follow-up tests to be carried out at home rather than having to return to hospital with the associated logistical challenges.
Read the full case study to find out about the impact and learnings from the project.