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Neonatal Unit

County Durham and Darlington NHS trust has a Neonatal Unit at University Hospital of North Durham and one at Darlington Memorial Hospital

Neonatal unit University Hospital of North Durham

Each Neonatal unit is a twelve bedded unit taking premature and term babies who do not require intensive care, but are unable to be cared for on a regular postnatal ward.  The units will provide some intensive care support but depending on the condition of the baby, he or she may need transfer to a neonatal intensive care unit.


 A team of doctors will oversee the care of your baby whilst on the neonatal unit. This team consists of junior and senior doctors and consultant paediatricians.

 The Neonatal Services manager oversees both units, and manages a team of nurses who are based on the units and rotate between both sites. Other staff who may have input into the care of the baby include:

•           Dieticians to ensure your baby is receiving optimal nutrition

•           Pharmacists who review medicines

•           Ophthalmologist may check your baby's eyes

•           Audiology technicians will check hearing prior to discharge

•           Radiographers may take x-rays

•           Speech and language team may be required  to assess feeding mechanisms

•           Physiotherapists may be asked to support positional care

Ward rounds take place in the mornings. Parents are encouraged to stay for ward rounds to participate in decisions regarding their baby's but may be asked to wait outside the nursery whilst other babies are discussed to maintain confidentiality.

Some babies only require a short stay whilst others are with us much longer. Your baby's care will be tailored to their individual requirements to ensure your baby receives the most optimal, family centred care. Both units have comfortable chairs to help with establishing breastfeeding and also a family room for parents to gain confidence to help you prepare for taking your baby home.

 Whilst your baby has been on the neonatal unit you have had a lot of support, with staff available to answer questions and give advice. Going home is something you are looking forward to but it can also cause some anxiety as well as relief. Research has shown that babies thrive better in their home environment. Some of the advantages that have been shown are an improvement in bonding and oral feeding, better family integration, less expense of travelling costs for parents and reduced risk of hospital acquired infections.

Prior to discharge planning, you will have been caring for your baby and built up your parent craft skills, gained confidence with your chosen feeding method and  will be able to  safely give nasogastric tube feeds.

You may take your baby home before he or she is fully fed as long as you feel safe to do so, are able to bring him back to the unit overnight if any problems occur and also contactable via the telephone. When your baby is ready for outreach your nurse will discuss your views on this and prepare for discharge.  Whilst on outreach, you will be visited usually every other day to enable us to monitor feeding and weight. You can contact the unit at any time for advice.


'Care received was fantastic and I was very well looked after and very impressed.'

Patient, Day Surgery, Darlington Memorial Hospital