Hospital uses videolink to let parents see premature babies during coronavirus crisis

Parents of premature babies are being helped to keep in touch with their vulnerable newborns by smartphone video link during the coronavirus crisis.

North Middlesex hospital in Edmonton has adapted technology normally used for NHS online clinics to enable families to connect with its neonatal intensive care unit.

Two doctors, paediatric registrars, Dr Amy Taylor and Dr Saskia Burchett, came up with the idea and the first “live call” took place yesterday.

Dr Burchett asked Vodafone to help and the firm donated smartphones and free connection for three months.

The devices are able to work on the NHS Attend Anywhere system — meaning parents can view “virtual ward rounds” being undertaken by neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) staff, and see directly into the baby’s incubator. Parents can also ask clinicians about their baby’s care and progress.

Hospitals have been forced to put visiting restrictions in place to reduce the risk of infection. Dr Cheentan Singh, consultant paediatrician and neonatologist at North Middlesex, said: “The bond between a newborn and their family is vital to their development and with the restrictions in place, we know that it can be really difficult for families.

“We wanted to be able to reunite families and keep them informed about their newborn’s progress. Technology has been a great way to do this.”

The hospital is also appealing for donations of old smartphones, iPads and tablets that can be used by adult Covid-19 patients to keep in touch with family members in self-isolation.

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