The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that all children in Scotland get the best possible start in life. Nowhere is this commitment demonstrated more effectively than in the care we provide to those babies who need neonatal services. This is where cutting-edge medical techniques and technology, ethics and compassionate care come together. This care has a direct and life-long impact, not only on the future of each vulnerable baby, but also on the lives of those who care for them.
The rate of advances in caring for these most vulnerable patients, and the increasing professional and public expectations which come with each new advance, mean that maintaining excellence requires a reappraisal of our services to ensure they are as safe, sustainable and high quality as possible.
The Scottish Government Maternity Services Action Group (MSAG) made a number of recommendations on the future of neonatal care in Scotland including: the development of clinical standards; the establishment of Managed Clinical Networks at a regional level; the development of consistent pathways of care and transfers and ensuring appropriate staffing. To address these recommendations the Neonatal Expert Advisory Group was tasked by the Scottish Government to develop a Quality Framework for neonatal care.
We have been very fortunate to have the level of expertise available to us round the NEAG table, bringing together key professional and service stakeholders; and in the considerable and extensive stakeholder engagement that took place, including key support from Bliss and SANDS. The three Managed Clinical Networks, which were established as part of the response to MSAG's recommendations, have provided an invaluable dimension which has helped NEAG to think at a strategic level about neonatal services in Scotland.
The ambitions of NHSScotland's Healthcare Quality Strategy underpin this Framework. We know that families want a service which is person centred, safe and effective. They need timely, relevant and easily accessible information to help them make the choices they face and they want care for their baby that is at the right level of quality and safety across Scotland.
The aim of the Framework is to set out the approach NHS Scotland will work towards, over time, to provide high quality care for neonates and their families. It will support the NHS in Scotland in its commitment to deliver evidence based, safe, effective and person-centred neonatal care.
I am very grateful to everyone involved in putting this Framework together, which I understand has been a long and sometimes difficult process, and for the commitment of staff to implement its recommendations and continually improve the quality of care. I know the Framework has the needs of babies and their families at its very heart and will secure the future of neonatal services in Scotland.
Michael Matheson MSP
Minister for Public Health
Email: Lynne Nicol