Neonatal care

Major improvement works to upgrade our neonatal ventilation system have been carried out over the past six months. The project is near completion, and we are pleased with how it has progressed. We’d like to update you on some of the latest developments we hope you find helpful:

  • The commissioning of works carried out on our neonatal unit is now complete.
  • Our constructors have now officially handed over the unit, back to the trust.
  • There are a number of infection, prevention and control tests and processes we must follow and are now completing.
  • We have a provisional date for a full return and reopening of the unit of week commencing 29 January 2024.

The estates department and neonatal team, as well as our main building contractors, have been working very hard to complete these works within the agreed time frame and we’d like to thank you and your families for your patience and understanding during this time.

The Neonatal care service at Watford General Hospital cares for around 800 babies each year.

Picture of a woman with thick brown curly hair and of white ethnicity smiling who is standing above a baby who is lying on a table face up

Our service consists of neonatal intensive care, high dependency and special care cots. We also have a dedicated six-bedded transitional care facility within the postnatal ward where babies who need additional help are cared for beside their mothers.

Our team of doctors, nurses and support staff provides 24/7 care of a wide range of neonatal problems:

  • prematurity
  • breathing problems
  • congenital heart defects
  • low birth weight
  • nutritional support with nasogastric tube feeding etc.

Ward rounds

There is usually one Consultant led ward round a day that takes place from 09:30 every morning. The ward round usually begins in Bumblebee (ITU) and progresses around the unit.

Parents are encouraged to attend ward rounds every morning if they are able to.

If you are unable to attend the ward round, then the nurse looking after your baby or a doctor will provide you with an update when you arrive or call. You will only be allowed to stay for the duration of the ward round that focuses on your baby.

Feeding your baby

We strongly encourage breast feeding and practise individualised developmentally supportive care.

Our unit’s outcome data is one of the best in the country as benchmarked by National Neonatal Audit Programme.

We aim to support you in your choice of feeding. To breastfeed successfully, it is vitally important to express breast milk regularly and, once your baby can breastfeed, to visit regularly to establish breastfeeding. You may wish to bring your own pillow. If you wish to bottle feed your baby, please supply your own bottle and a bottle brush.

The nurse looking after your baby will be able to offer breastfeeding advice and our specialist breastfeeding support nurse and health care assistants are available to offer practical support and guidance. An expressing room is available on the unit.

For further support there is a breastfeeding and discharge support group meeting each Friday; please see the notice in our parents' area for details.

Further support

The parents' forum meeting is on Wednesdays at 12:00. We welcome all your comments as they help us to measure the standards and quality of our service. A suggestion box is also available on top of the drinking foundation next to Hedgehog ward. The trust's Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) is available to patients who wish to raise any issues or concerns regarding their stay in the hospital.

For more details on how to contact PALS please click here.

Routine screening tests

During the first few weeks of life, your baby will have newborn screening tests. Your consent for these test will be sought; further information and leaflets are available from the nurse looking after your baby.

Discharge home

We begin to prepare for discharge from the time of admission, with your involvement at all stages. Our dedicated neonatal community team will also be involved in facilitating the discharge of your baby and will provide continued support once you have taken your baby home.

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How to get help

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Refer yourself