£1.5 million Family Fund to help meet costs.
Parents of premature babies in NHS care will now be able to get extra support with the financial cost.
Through the Scottish Government’s 2018/19 draft budget the new £1.5 million Family Fund will be available from the 1st of April for parents of premature babies to help with the additional costs they face, such as for travel to and from hospital or food and drink.
Around 4,400 babies are born prematurely (under 36 weeks) every year in Scotland and estimates show the average additional cost to parents is over £200 a week.
Visiting the neonatal unit at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee today, Health Secretary Shona Robison said:
“Becoming a parent should be the best feeling in the world, but if a baby is born prematurely and needs neonatal care it’s an anxious time.
“We also know that it can be expensive, so we have looked at the support available to parents.
“All Health Boards already offer accommodation when it is most needed and we are working with Boards to ensure that there is sufficient, free accommodation for all parents when required.
“This new national Family Fund of at least £1.5 million will be available to parents regardless of income to ease money worries at a very difficult time.”
Caroline Lee-Davey, Chief Executive of Bliss Scotland, said:
“We warmly welcome this announcement of much-needed financial support for families across Scotland with a baby in neonatal care.
“This fund will help more parents to be with their baby for as much time as possible and to play a hands-on role in their babies’ care, which we know is best for babies and families.
“Bliss Scotland looks forward to continuing to work with the Scottish Government in 2018 to ensure the fund works in the best way for families, as well as on the delivery of the other neonatal recommendations in Best Start.”
The Scottish Government is working with Bliss and NHS Boards to ensure that the process for claiming is simple and clear to all eligible parents.
Neonatal units can currently provide information on local charities that can provide help to families suffering financial hardship.
Best Start: A Five-Year Forward Plan for Maternity and Neonatal Care in Scotland - Executive Summary Report, was published by the Scottish Government in January 2017.