Introduction and overview

Introduction and overview

This quality standard covers the care provided for babies in need of specialist neonatal services (including neonatal special, high-dependency, intensive or surgical care services), and including transfer services.


As a result of increasing rates of fertility and availability of assisted conception, more and more babies in England require specialist neonatal care each year. In 2007‑8, one in ten babies born alive received specialist neonatal care of some sort and this number is constantly increasing. In particular, babies born pre-term require highly specialised care in units where multidisciplinary teams can ensure that they receive the best possible technologically advanced care, and that the needs of their families are also met. This quality standard provides clinicians, managers and parents with a description of what high-quality specialist neonatal care should look like.


The quality standard for specialist neonatal care requires that the physical, psychological and social needs of babies and their families are at the heart of all care given. It requires that services should be commissioned from and coordinated across all relevant agencies encompassing the whole neonatal care pathway. An integrated approach to provision of services is fundamental to the delivery of high quality care to babies in need of specialist neonatal services.