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Criteria for Admission

There are many reasons why babies require admission to ours, but most babies are either born prematurely or are born at term but then become unwell and require specialist treatment.

At Bedford Hospital there is a special care baby unit (SCBU), and at the Luton and Dunstable University Hospital (L&D) there is a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Below you will see the criteria for admission into our units.

Bedford Hospital

Bedford Hospital special care baby unit (SCBU) is based on the 2nd floor of cygnet wing and works within the East of England Neonatal Network.

There are many reasons why babies require admission to the SCBU, but most babies are either born prematurely or are born at term but then become unwell and require specialist treatment. Here at Bedford we look after babies born from around 30 week’s gestation up to term and babies that require some extra help after birth.

We are a special care baby unit with capacity to care for 12 babies.  Babies that are born below 30 weeks gestation or require extra respiratory care or surgical care are usually stabilised and transferred to our nearest NICU centre, this is normally either Luton or Addenbrookes.  Occasionally we may need to transfer babies further afield to ensure they are provided with the clinical care that is appropriate for them.

Sometimes when babies are born early or even some babies that are born at term require additional help with their breathing.  Bedford SCBU can facilitate this in the short term.  We can provide short-term ventilation (less than 24 hours) Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and Vapotherm (Non-invasive ventilatory support) are two supportive treatments we can use.

Sometimes babies are not able to feed for many reasons after their birth, we will support and advise you with which ever method of feeding you choose and help provide you with any information you require to ensure you make an informed choice. Some babies may need the extra support of intravenous feeding initially, this can be difficult for parents but if you choose, we can support with expressing your breast milk and its storage.

It is our aim here at SCBU to provide quality neonatal care for your baby that is family centred, supportive and inclusive, we will keeps you informed or any changes in your babies condition and collaboratively plan your babies care.   We encourage your feedback and welcome your input. Ultimately we are here to help support your family unit through what may be a very worrying and difficult time.

Luton and Dunstable University Hospital

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is based at the Luton & Dunstable Hospital site and works within the East of England Neonatal Network.

There are many reasons why babies require admission to the NICU, but most babies are either born prematurely or are born at term but then become unwell and require specialist treatment. We routinely look after babies born as early as only 24 weeks gestation and occasionally 22 weeks gestation.

We are a busy unit with a maximum capacity of 37 neonatal cots split between 11 intensive care (Level 3), 10 high dependency (Level 2) and 16 special care (Level 1) cots. Each level of care has it’s own admission criteria as follows.

Level 1 care is termed as special care and generally all babies born at 32 to 36 weeks gestation will be admitted for this level of care. Many of these babies require support in feeding, may require a small amount of oxygen or need regular electronic monitoring of vital signs for their condition. Babies who are cared for in high dependency will eventually move to Special Care when they are well enough.

Level 2 is high dependency care. All babies born between 28 and 32 weeks gestation require this level of care. Other babies requiring Level 2 care will include those that no longer need intensive care or those that require more specialist treatments such as non invasive oxygen therapy, intravenous nutrition or monitoring for seizure activity. Extremely premature babies who are cared for in NICU will eventually move to HDU when they are well enough.

Level 3 (intensive care) is for all babies born at less than 28 weeks gestation. These babies are likely to need continuous and complex intravenous infusions, advanced breathing support (possibly with a ventilator) or have blood borne infections requiring antibiotic treatment. Additionally, the Luton NICU caters for babies that sometimes require laser eye treatment due to their extreme prematurity.

Parents should be aware that babies will sometimes move between these levels of care during their stay based on their prematurity and if they require more specialist care.