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NICU Staff by Cot

Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (ASPH) has been identified as outstanding, for a second year in a row, for ‘Deferred Cord Clamping’ for preterm infants in the 2023 National Neonatal Audit Programme (NNAP).

The NNAP supports professionals, families, and commissioners to improve care provided by neonatal services who look after babies born too early, with a low birth weight or who have a medical condition requiring specialist treatment.

‘Deferred Cord Clamping’ or ‘Optimal Cord Management’ is the delayed clamping of a baby’s umbilical cord after birth. It helps prevent a sudden drop in the baby’s blood pressure, by allowing extra blood from the placenta to replace the blood that flows into the baby’s lungs when they take their first breaths. It also helps increase the amount of haemoglobulin and iron the baby receives.

Evidence shows in preterm babies of less than 34 weeks gestation, delaying the clamping of the cord for a minimum of 60 seconds after birth, reduces death by nearly a third.

ASPH were forerunners in implementing this practice before this became a national standard in 2021 and this is an exemplar example of the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) working between Neonatal colleagues, Maternity, Obstetricians and Anaesthetists, and Theatre staff.

The Trust would also like to say a special thanks to our Little Roo Neonatal Fund, which assisted the start-up of the project, by supporting the cost of the LifeStartTM stabilisation platform, the training video and the consumables for a year.

Helen, mother of Zak said: “During the labour experience for Zak, it was explained to me that the team would delay the cord clamping to give him extra time to benefit. Knowing that this was something that could be done to benefit him right from the start was a comfort in a very difficult time.

“When he was born, he wasn’t breathing. The LifeStart machine and medical teams brought him back. I can never thank the teams enough for this.” Sid Hurry, Little Roo Neonatal Fund Manager said: “Little Roo were delighted to fund the LifeStart equipment, consumables and training video, enabling the delivery of optimal cord clamping at St Peter’s NICU.”

This has helped St Peter’s NICU become one of the first neonatal units in our Kent, Surrey and Sussex network to achieve significantly high proportion of optimal cord clamping for the preterm babies born in our unit.

Vennila Ponnusamy, Clinical lead for Neonatal team at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals and the project lead said: “Receiving this result for a second year in a row is a real testament to our forward thinking and joint working between our neonatal and maternity teams. We’re proud to see our teams being recognised for the work they are doing, and the dedication and enthusiasm they have in improving the safety of the most vulnerable babies and their mothers admitted to our unit.”

You can help make a difference to sick and premature babies by donating to Little Roo Neonatal Fund at www.justgiving.com/littlerooneonatalfund. Your donations help us to provide new innovative equipment such as this, which can make a real difference to tiny lives.


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