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Neonatal care

Special care baby unit

The Neonatal unit provides emergency care for sick newborn and premature babies.

Babies born at less than 35 weeks and those likely to need intensive or high dependency care are cared for in Ormskirk hospital which offers level two intensive care. The unit is part of the Mersey and Cheshire Neonatal Intensive Care Network.

The unit holds 12 cots and practices family-centred care focusing on teamwork between parents, family, nursing, medical and support staff to provide the best possible care for the baby.

Babies are admitted to the unit because they need a little extra special care and attention. This may be due to a number of reasons which may include:

  • Born before 35 weeks gestation
  • Need additional oxygen or help with breathing
  • Have low blood sugars –(hypoglycaemia)
  • Have a very high jaundice level
  • Have an infection or suspected infection
  • Babies with feeding difficulties

All babies and families are individual so their care is tailor-made especially for them.

Care in the unit

A baby’s stay can vary between four hours and a few months depending upon the baby’s condition.

We provide intensive care, high dependency and special care 24 hours a day and seven days a week. However, babies who are born below 28 weeks, are less than 1kg or need more specialist care are transferred to another hospital within the Mersey and Cheshire network.

Normally babies return to our unit for continuing care after they no longer need specialist care.

Babies are allocated a consultant and two named nurses, who will help plan and co-ordinate treatment and care. We understand that this may be a difficult and distressing time, but hope to reassure all the family that their baby is being looked after by a specialist team of nurses and doctors.

Both nurses and doctors discuss plans of care and treatment with parents, so that they are aware of and can be involved with their baby’s care and making informed decisions.

Parents are encouraged to become involved in caring for their baby from day one. A parent education programme is in place to help and support them until they feel confident in full care of the baby.

The babies are often nursed in incubators initially to enable close observation and monitoring but also to keep them warm.

Many monitors and machines may be attached to the baby but this helps the nurses and doctors to observe the baby without disturbing them. The baby may need help to support their breathing which is provided through a machine called a ventilator or a Sipap machine.

Often babies are too poorly or too early to be able to feed orally so they are fed intravenously on special nutritional fluid (total parental nutrition) or with milk which goes through a tube from the nose into the stomach.

Breast milk is the best milk for sick and preterm babies and mums are encouraged to provide this whenever possible.

Babies often need various medication, scans, X-rays and blood tests.  We have excellent support services which enable us to achieve and access all the necessary treatments and investigations.

Family facilities

All the facilities for our parents are situated in the unit. This means parents are never far away from their baby.

We have two family rooms providing overnight accommodation with digital TVs and DVD players. We have a parents’ sitting room with kitchen facilities, parents’ own toilet and shower room and a milk expressing room for mums who prefer not to express at the cot-side.

We have books, toys and games available in the parents’ sitting room and we welcome the babies brothers and sisters, by awarding certificates and encouraging their participation when the baby is well enough.

Staff are always available to offer support and advice. We also have a number of information leaflets that explain about having a baby in the unit, and other leaflets about particular conditions, treatments and investigations.

Contact with local children centres is available through the FaB family workers, and breast feeding support is available during your time in the unit and beyond.

We provide you with a variety of useful websites which offer helplines, chat forums, parent support and counselling. We can also offer you the opportunity to meet up with other parents who have been in a similar situation.

Preparation for home is commenced as soon as possible with opportunities to complete the parent education programme, attend discharge planning meetings and meet up with community staff.

This way, parents can feel confident and prepared for taking their baby home.

Opening hours and visiting times

Opening hours. The unit is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and babies are cared for around the clock.

Visiting times.  We have open visiting 24 hours a day for parents, brothers and sisters. For all other visitors, our visiting hours are 2-3pm and  6-7.30pm and we ask that at least one parent accompanies the visitors and that no more than two visitors are at the babies cot side at any one time. Visitors may wait in the family sitting room. All visitors should wash their hands thoroughly before touching the baby as this greatly reduces the risk of infection. Please do not visit if you are unwell.


Neonatal Unit 01695 656922