A letter from our Chief Executive on helping families with premature babies
For World Prematurity Day, Sunday 17 November, Chief Executive of The Sick Children’s Trust, Jane Featherstone, has written an open letter about the importance of keeping families together with their premature babies to raise awareness of the struggles they face in the days, weeks and months after the arrival of their baby.
Imagine, it’s 3am and the phone starts ringing. ‘Your baby isn’t well, you need to get here immediately.’ With every ounce of energy, you rush out of the house and make the long journey to the hospital where your baby is being treated. You feel the panic rising but try to stay calm.
This is the reality for hundreds of parents across the country who have a baby that is born prematurely.
The Sick Children’s Trust supports families affected by this, who have had no time to plan for the early arrival of their baby. On World Prematurity Day, we want to raise awareness of the daily anguish parents with premature babies face and how, together, we can help relieve some of their stresses and concerns.
By giving families a place to stay, free of charge, just minutes from their baby’s bedside our charity helps to alleviate some of the physical and emotional exhaustion that comes with having a premature baby who needs specialist treatment.
Our families tell us that that the enormity of having a premature baby is bigger than you could ever comprehend. It’s scary, overwhelming and unbelievably stressful not knowing what they’ll be waking up to. Not knowing whether their baby has managed to pull through another night.
Added to this, families can be under huge financial strain. Did you know that having a baby on a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) can cost around £2,256 due to travel, accommodation, food and loss of earnings?
They tell me it takes, on average, 97 minutes to travel to see their baby and we know that on average, a child spends eight weeks in one of the very few NICUs across England. That’s around 168 hours spent in the car, on the bus or train rather than at their sick baby’s bedside. Without our support, they tell us how they would have to spend another sleepless night on a hospital chair or make the exhausting 60 mile trip to be together as a family. There is no reason why any parent should be separated from their seriously ill baby.
As a charity, we do our best to keep families together but more can be done if more is known about the issue, which is where you can help.
Show your support for the 60,000 families with premature babies today by joining in the conversation on social media with #IWishIdKnown.
Every year we help almost 3,800 families by giving them somewhere to stay near their seriously ill child’s hospital bedside. Sign up to receive our email newsletters to stay up to date with how your support is helping to keep families together.