A new service to find the nearest vacant hospital cot for critically ill and premature babies is launched today.
The government-funded National Cot Locator will allow hospital staff to see at a glance where available cots are located at 40 neonatal intensive care units throughout England.
Previously, clinical staff had to ring round other hospitals to find a cot which wastes valuable treatment time.
Care for critically ill babies is divided into 24 regional networks.
Hospitals aim to provide 95 per cent of neonatal intensive care for babies in their local network. But when a cot can’t be found or the baby is seriously ill, they have to be sent outside of the local network to a specialist unit.
Health Minister, Ivan Lewis, said: ‘About 17,000 babies a year require neonatal intensive care. On the occasions when a suitable cot is needed outside of the local network, a call to the National Neonatal Cot Locator will provide immediate up-to-date information about more distant options, making sure that these transfers can happen quickly, are effectively planned and can go as smoothly as possible.
‘This will make a real difference to families and professionals seeking to ensure that babies and parents get the best possible care in usually very challenging circumstances.’
Andy Cole, Chief Executive of Bliss, the premature baby charity said: ‘We hope to see the cot locator have a significant impact across England on the crucial issues of available cots and transfers for babies in need of intensive care.’