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"We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to your team for the first rate care we received before, during and after the delivery of our baby boy ... some five weeks early and had the best possible start to his life".  Mr&Mrs TW

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Maternity Unit

Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU)

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit - also known as the Special Care Baby Unit or SCBU - provides specialist intensive care for babies who are born prematurely or become very unwell.

We look after babies born with more serious health issues anywhere across the north of the country.

You can find practical details about the unit, such as how to find us and facilities available, on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit webpage.


Care centred on the family

The care we provide is baby and family-centred. Care is delivered by an enthusiastic and friendly team including doctors, neonatal nurses and physiotherapists. All our staff have the experience and expertise to ensure your newborn baby receives the very best care.

Parents can be involved in their baby’s care as much as they wish. You can attend doctors’ review meetings where your baby's care and treatment is discussed. You are also encouraged to carry out important tasks such as nappy changing.

Each baby’s notes are kept beside their incubator and parents are welcome to read and comment on them at any time.

Our services

The unit is based on Ward 35 in the Maternity Department at the Royal Victoria Infirmary. We help premature babies to breathe using ventilators and breathing support without the need for tubes into the body. We also provide care and support for babies following heart, eye and abdominal surgery.

We run a 24/7 service for the region where we transfer babies who need specialist care from hospitals around the North of England, to the RVI. We also transfer babies under 6kg for the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

All babies who are transferred to the RVI will be returned to their local hospital when they are well enough.

We also provide care - sometimes called ‘transitional care’ - for vulnerable babies so they can remain mainly in the care of their mother, with support from midwives and neonatal nurses.

Specialist care and advice where and when you need it

The medical care of vulnerable newborns is led by consultants, supported by nursing teams on all three areas of the unit:

  • intensive care
  • high dependency
  • special care.

Depending on your baby’s individual needs, he or she will be cared for in one of these areas.

Small babies who are being fed through tubes and have no other problems, may be transferred to the postnatal ward with their mother when all is well. Here, they will have the continued support of the transitional care team which works exclusively on the postnatal wards.

This ensures that wherever possible, babies are not separated from their mother in their early days of life.

Specialist transfer service

If the doctors and nurses decide that your baby is well enough to be transferred from our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to another hospital, you can be taken by ambulance with paramedics who have had specialist training. This ensures your baby can be transferred safely, and any care your baby may need during the journey can be given.

This transfer service is unique to Newcastle and means that our own staff don’t have to leave the unit understaffed.

When babies are sent home, our community nurse may visit them. Some infants are dependent on oxygen or need to be fed by a tube. If this is the case, you will be given support and training to help you look after your baby when the unit staff decide your baby is ready to go home.  

Support when leaving the ward

We offer parents training in resuscitation during the preparation for leaving the unit, and the chance to stay in a flat close to the ward to prepare for home.

The Children’s Community Nursing Service provides support in the community for infants with complex needs, or those on oxygen at home.

Most babies will have follow-up appointments closer to their own homes. Those with more complex needs might need to come back to the RVI for on-going care.

We have a parental support group that runs on a monthly basis – please ask your doctor or nurse for more details.

More information

For more information about the Special Care Baby Unit, please contact:

  • Yve Collingwood Matron, on tel: 0191 282 9617
  • Dr Alan Fenton, Head of Department, on tel: 0191 282 9082
  • Sister Gray, Transitional Care Lead Nurse, on tel: 0191 282 9854
  • Sister Gourley, Transport Lead Nurse, on tel: 0191 282 9240
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