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Research Article

Referrals for neonatal medical care in the United Kingdom over one year. British Association of Perinatal Medicine Working Group.

BMJ 1989; 298 doi: (Published 21 January 1989) Cite this as: BMJ 1989;298:169


A survey of referrals for neonatal medical care was conducted by neonatal paediatricians in the United Kingdom from 1 August 1986 to 31 July 1987. It was intended to estimate the unmet need for neonatal medical care and to find out what happens after an attempt to transfer a pregnant woman or a baby has been unsuccessful. A total of 3734 attempts had been made, of which 1646 were for in utero cases and 2088 were for postnatal cases. Nationally, about 9% of attempts to transfer (331) were unsuccessful. In most regions a high proportion of attempts that were eventually successful had taken a considerable amount of time to arrange. It is concluded that despite a twofold increase since 1980 in the number of cots available for neonatal intensive care, arrangements for such provision in the UK are not adequate to meet every request for transfer. No health region in England or country in the UK was able to meet every request immediately, and some regions had great difficulties in arranging even those transfers that had been accepted. Such delays in transfer may lead to appreciable extra morbidity and considerable costs in future.