This paper describes one year's experience with the running of a special postnatal ward area, established so that babies who needed more treatment and monitoring than is generally undertaken on postnatal wards but who did not need the facilities of the neonatal unit could be kept by their mother's bedside. This 'intermediate care ward' admitted 297 babies with their mothers during its first year of operation. We estimate that the opening of the ward led to a 20% reduction in admissions to the neonatal unit, without disadvantage to any baby. The indications for admission are outlined and the reactions of patients and staff to the innovation discussed.
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