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Edmund Neville Hey

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 10 August 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4845
  1. Alan Craft

Edmund Neville Hey (“Ed”) was a pioneer in the care of newborn babies. He made major contributions to understanding babies’ physiology, the evidence base for their clinical care, and perinatal epidemiology. Babies, especially those born prematurely, need to be kept warm; they need to be looked after by highly skilled nurses; and their care is best organised in tiers so that those needing the greatest medical and nursing expertise can be referred to centres with the necessary skills. Ed provided evidence on the physiology of thermal regulation and the organisation of neonatal care that continues to be central to clinical care and policy decisions today.

Ed’s work on thermoregulation in babies was as a DPhil student in Oxford working with Kenneth Cross. After birth from a very warm environment babies very quickly lose heat especially if they are born too early. His early clinical training was in Oxford, but he was appointed consultant in respiratory paediatrics at Great Ormond Street Hospital before he moved to Newcastle as senior lecturer in child health in 1970. Here he came under the influence of Gerald Neligan, who was one of the first paediatricians to specialise in the care of newborn babies. Along with Mike Parkin, they developed a system of care which was comparatively non-interventionist at a time when others were developing much more intrusive care. They believed in doing simple things well and assisting nature’s normal processes.

Hey recognised at an early stage the importance of data collection to evaluate …

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