Estimates of the number of cots required for neonatal intensive care have been based on recommendations made in 1971 in the Sheldon report, and there is concern that the recommendations are now out of date. Therefore changes in the use of neonatal care within one health region (North-east Thames) during the years 1972, 1974, and 1976 have been examined. It was found that new developments in the sophisticated care of very small and sick babies have placed greater demands on cots and other resources. More babies of very low birthweights are now being cared for in the two units in the region and the average length of stay in hospital is increasing. Criteria have been refined and brought up to date to estimate the likely requirements for neonatal intensive care cots, taking into account recent developments in the care of small babies.
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