Although neither of my children were premature they were both born early, one by three weeks the other by two. Added to this is the challenge that can often be associated with living on an Island or in a remote community when it’s decided, that you must leave your area to have your baby, as it was in my case when they discovered that Nadia my second had stopped growing, it was off down to Aberdeen Maternity for the last few weeks of my pregnancy, so I can well understand the pressures both mentally and financially that being away from home can bring with it.
It may be a great relief therefore for families in future to learn that The Scottish Government are setting up a £1.5 Million family fund. This means the families of premature babies born in NHS Scotland shall be able to access additional financial help. This proposal is part of The Scottish Government’s Budget and shall be available from April 1st 2018. This shall help with transport costs to and from hospital and also food costs where incurred, thus reducing at least part of the stress that can be associated with Premature births.
Premature babies are babies born before 36 weeks and account for around 4400 babies born in Scotland each year costing approximately an additional £200 to the families involved.
Whilst visiting the neonatal unit at Ninewells Hospital, Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “Becoming a parent should be the best feeling in the world, but if a baby is born prematurely and needs neonatal care it’s an anxious time.
“We also know that it can be expensive, so we have looked at the support available to parents”.
“All Health Boards already offer accommodation when it is most needed and we are working with Boards to ensure that there is sufficient, free accommodation for all parents when required.
“This new national Family Fund of at least £1.5 million will be available to parents regardless of income to ease money worries at a very difficult time.”
Orkney Charitable Trust stated: “Delighted to say we were involved in influencing the Scottish Government, in discussions around the impact on families in Orkney when children have to spend time in hospital South. The government has announced new support with expenses for parents with children in neonatal care. This will be available from 1 April.”
Bliss Scotland‘s Chief Executive Caroline Lee-Davey commented: “We warmly welcome this announcement of much-needed financial support for families across Scotland with a baby in neonatal care.
“This fund will help more parents to be with their baby for as much time as possible and to play a hands-on role in their babies’ care, which we know is best for babies and families.
“Bliss Scotland looks forward to continuing to work with the Scottish Government in 2018 to ensure the fund works in the best way for families, as well as on the delivery of the other neonatal recommendations in Best Start.”
Reporter Helen Armet