East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has attended the launch of a major joint report looking at neonatal services in Northern Ireland.
The Northern Ireland Baby Report 2018, by the Bliss and TinyLife organisations, was launched at a Stormont event today sponsored by Mr Dickson’s Alliance colleague, Kellie Armstrong MLA. It came as Ms Armstrong submitted an Assembly motion calling for extended maternity and paternity leave for parents of premature babies.
Mr Dickson commented: “Today’s event was important to bring together healthcare staff from the neonatal units surveyed as part of the report, with parents and families of babies born prematurely, as well as local MLAs.
“Shockingly, more than half of neonatal units in Northern Ireland do not have enough staff to meet minimum standards and they are so short-staffed that time away for vital training is impossible.”
“No-one should have to work under these conditions. 1800 babies a year being born premature or sick is hugely concerning. This is yet another example of where those with the biggest mandates, refusing to take a lead on the major issues that affect us. Vulnerable children are at risk as a result.
“My Alliance Colleague Kellie Armstrong MLA’s, motion calls for the extension of statutory maternity and paternity leave and maternity benefit for parents of premature babies. However, as with the many issues that face Northern Ireland today, we cannot begin to tackle this problem until the restoration of the Assembly. Nonetheless, it is vital that we continue to look at how our Health Service can improve, and meet the needs of patients and their families.”