THERE has been good news on the south western front, with the SWAH neonatal unit now on the road to restoring its services.
Since late November, staff shortages at the life-saving unit has seen its usual capacity of six specialist cots slashed to just two, meaning the Enniskillen hospital has only been providing short term or emergency care for babies, or stabilisation for their transfer to specialist care at neonatal units elsewhere if required.
Extensive recruitment efforts at the hospital have been ongoing, and the Western Trust has now revealed it has filled a number of posts and has begun to restore the unit’s capacity.
A spokeswoman told the Herald the Trust had been successful in filling a Band 7 and a number of Band 5 posts at the unit. It is continuing to advertise for Band 6 posts and said “more widespread radio ads have been developed to try and attract staff from ROI/ N Ireland.”
“It has therefore been approved to move the threshold of delivery in SWAH from 36 weeks to 35 weeks with recommencement of neonatal special care provision for babies from 35 week gestation,” said the spokeswoman.
“Alongside this we will recommence repatriation of some babies from this locality, who are currently receiving special care in other hospitals.
“This change is with immediate effect.”
The spokeswoman added, “We are also pleased to announce that Tinylife have recruited to a Family Support officer to support families with preterm infants in the Tyrone and Fermanagh area.”
Two of the new recruits at the neonatal unit have been speaking of how they have been warmly welcomed to the SWAH, and how rewarding their roles are.
Bronagh Hanna said she had left the emergency department at Craigavon Hospital to work at the SWAH, stating it was “great to be closer to home.”
“Neonatal is a completely new setting for me as I’m used to more sick kids rather than tiny babies but my new colleagues in SWAH have been so welcoming over the last week,” she said. “I am working my way around meeting everyone but they have been so welcoming and they have provided lots of training.”
Ms Hanna said the training had been excellent, and encouraged others to consider moving to the hospital.
“When I started in SWAH they gave me the opportunity to undertake a Neonatal course in Queen’s starting this month. In this course I will learn how to manage neonatal babies, but I will also be learning about breastfeeding and working alongside parents,” she said.
“Parents are a big part of working in neonatal as you have to teach them about how to care for their baby and it’s mostly just reassuring them.
“The Neonatal Unit at South West Acute Hospital is a lovely place to work if you’re thinking of joining us!”
Another new nurse at the unit is Barbara Palmer, who joined as a bank nurse after taking early retirement.
“I think this is just a wonderful opportunity to continue to nurse in a lovely calm, nurturing environment for the babies and their families,” she said.
“SWAH is a wonderful hospital with great facilities and the team here are so welcoming. They welcome people who are newly qualified who are going to learn new skills and also people like me who have a lot of experience.
“I just can’t recommend it highly enough. If you are thinking about joining the team at SWAH and you want to continue nursing this is a great place to come.”
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