A NATIONAL campaign calling for parents of premature and sick babies to be given better financial and emotional support has been backed by Monmouth MP David Davies.
The UK charity Bliss, which works to ensure that premature and sick babies survive and go on to have the best possible quality of life, is spearheading the campaign.
It uses a report it produced to highlight the financial burden to families whose baby is admitted to neonatal care.
The report, entitled “It’s not a game: The very real costs of having a premature or sick baby”, is based on the experiences of 1,300 families in England, Scotland and Wales.
It found parents faced spiralling costs averaging over £280 per week during their baby’s stay in hospital, including paying for accommodation, food and drink, and transport.
Two thirds of parents also stated their mental health had worsened as a result of the extra pressure.
In a series of recommendations to help relieve pressure on families, Bliss wants parents travelling more than 20 miles to see their baby in hospital to have their costs reimbursed.
Bliss also believes parents should have access to free parking (if they are not already getting it) and accommodation so they can be near their baby, as well as meals provided and access to childcare at the hospital.
Mr Davies pledged his support to the campaign after meeting with constituent and Bliss campaigner Vicky Gray.
Her son Kieron was born at just 24 weeks and wasn’t expected to live beyond his first 24 hours. He survived and was discharged after spending 15 weeks in hospital.
“We also had a 17 month-old daughter at the time and my husband lost his job a week after the birth,” said Mrs Gray, who lives in Croesyceiliog.
“The Bliss report highlights the extra costs that families like mine, whether working or not, are faced with.
“Bliss have been an amazing source of information and support for me through some tough and difficult times.”
Alongside campaigning for the charity, Mrs Gray is a volunteer for Bliss and spends several hours per week on the neonatal unit at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport offering parental help and support. She is also a parent representative for the Wales Neonatal Network.
Mr Davies, a father of three, added:
“It was very moving to meet with Vicki and to hear the stories of those who have been helped by Bliss.
“Volunteers like Vicki who have personal understanding of the problems of an early birth are able to offer advice and a listening ear to those who are going through the same experience.
“I am delighted to support Bliss to ensure all babies born premature and sick and their families get the vital support they need.”
For further information, visit www.bliss.org.uk.