This guideline offers best practice advice on the care of babies who are at risk of or who have an early-onset neonatal infection (that is, onset of infection within 72 hours of birth).
Treatment and care should take into account the needs and preferences of parents and carers, as appropriate. Parents and carers whose babies are at risk of or have an early-onset neonatal infection should have the opportunity to make informed decisions about their baby's, and their own, care and treatment, in partnership with their healthcare professionals. If parents and carers do not have the capacity to make decisions, healthcare professionals should follow the Department of Health's advice on consent and the code of practice that accompanies the Mental Capacity Act. In Wales, healthcare professionals should follow advice on consent from the Welsh Government.
If the woman is under 16, healthcare professionals should follow the Department of Health's guidance in Seeking consent: working with children.
Sometimes if a baby appears to have a serious illness that could indicate the need for urgent treatment the medical staff may not have time to fully discuss what is involved in that treatment beforehand. In an emergency, if the person with parental responsibility cannot be contacted, healthcare professionals may give treatment immediately if it is in the baby's best interests.
Good communication between healthcare professionals and the parents or carers is essential. It should be supported by evidence-based written information tailored to their needs. Treatment and care, and the information given about it, should be culturally appropriate. It should also be accessible to people with additional needs such as physical, sensory or learning disabilities, and to people who do not speak or read English.