A review of neonatal special and intensive care units in the UK in 1980-81 shows that although the number of cot/incubator units provided for special care conforms with current recommendations, there is a contrasting shortfall of 40% in cot/incubator units for intensive care. Admission policies are vague, vary considerably, and not all units are engaged in the type of care for which they are officially intended. Many units would admit fewer babies if the number and level of expertise of nursing staff in postnatal wards was improved. Rationalisation and redistribution of facilities seems advisable. The number of trained nurses falls far short of those recommended. Almost 21% of units had no formal staffing establishment, and of those that did less than half were filled. The total number of nurses of all ranks and experience failed to reach recommended levels, as did the ratio of trained staff to 'others'. Recruitment of nurses to this specialty is slow and the high turnover rate endangers maintenance of high standards and continuity of patient care.
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