Norwich neonatal unit scores highly in quality audit

The neonatal unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is achieving among the very highest scores in the region for implementing standards designed to help stop pre-term babies developing a serious stomach condition.

Necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) is a serious illness in which tissues in the intestine (gut) become inflamed and start to die. This can lead to a perforation (hole) developing which allows the contents of the intestine to leak into the abdomen (tummy).

NEC can be difficult to diagnose but the symptoms tend to include general signs of illness, problems feeding, and a swollen and tender abdomen. NEC is the most common surgical emergency in newborn babies and tends to affect more babies born prematurely than those born full-term.

Since January this year all neonatal units have implemented what is called a care bundle to try and prevent at-risk babies developing Necrotising Enterocolitis (NEC). The care bundle focuses on:

  • Early expressing of breast milk
  • Ongoing support for expressing and breastfeeding
  • Following a standardised enteral feeding guideline
  • Following an aseptic approach when preparing milk feeds

Helping mums express breast milk is important because human milk is protective with a three to ten-fold reduction in NEC (compared to formula fed). The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at NNUH, supported by the midwifery team, is one of only two units out of 15 in the region to achieve greater than 80 per cent compliance with all elements of the NEC care bundle over the past three months.

The Norwich unit is one of the busiest in the region and its staff look after more than 850 babies a year. The NICU currently has a total of 28 cots. A £500,000 appeal is underway to expand the unit by four cots. To support the Norwich Cots for Tots appeal you can donate:

1. Online at

2. Send a cheque payable to the NNUH NHS Foundation Trust with “NICU Cot Expansion Fund F300” written on the back of the cheque and send to Communications, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Colney Lane, Norwich, NR4 7UY.

Tuesday 14th of June 2011 03:00:13 PM