About the service
We are a dedicated service funded to transfer babies between neonatal units. We have three teams based in Medway, Chertsey and Brighton who operate on a rotation of day and night shifts to make sure a 24–hour service is available across all three counties.
Our teams are made up of highly skilled doctors and nurses who have received specialist training in the transfer of premature and sick babies.
We have two teams:
- Full team – a doctor or advanced neonatal nurse practitioner (ANNP), a neonatal nurse and an ambulance driver.
- Nurse only team – a neonatal nurse (or sometimes a doctor or ANNP) and an ambulance driver.
The team you meet will depend on the category of transfer and the needs of your baby. All teams are overseen by a neonatal consultant.
Your baby may be very premature or sick and therefore need intensive care or specialist treatment on a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and we have been called to arrange their transfer. The initial management of your baby will have been delivered by the local team with some advice from our team. Your baby may need transfer to another neonatal unit for other reasons including staff or equipment shortages.
The neonatal unit currently caring for your baby is part of the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Neonatal Operational Network. We will always try to place your baby in the most appropriate unit to meet their needs, closest to your home. If no neonatal cots are available in Kent, we will transport your baby to the nearest available neonatal bed within the network (Surrey or Sussex). If no appropriate bed is available within the network, or additional specialist services are needed (cardiology or neurology), we will look to neighbouring network hospitals in London or Thames Valley and Wessex.
When we arrive at the hospital, we will need to assess your baby and take details about their condition and medical care so far. We may need to spend some more time with your baby carrying out further treatment before it is safe to transfer them. You are welcome to be with your baby. Please feel free to ask us questions; it is important you fully understand what is happening.
If you are not able to see your baby on the neonatal unit due to your own postnatal treatment, our team can bring your baby to see you in our transport incubator before we go to the ambulance, this is an opportunity to take photos.
We will provide you with written information specific to the hospital and unit to which your baby is being transferred including directions, a map, contact numbers, and details about local facilities, including parent accommodation. All hospitals offer different facilities to parents.
On most occasions one parent can travel with their baby. The parent will sit at the front of the ambulance next to the driver. They may bring one piece of luggage. Mums need to be at least 24–hours post-delivery, fit for hospital discharge from maternity and well enough to travel. There are occasions when it is not possible to take a parent. We apologise for this and will try to communicate this to the local team as early as possible.
If you are still an inpatient at the hospital where your baby was born, it may be possible for you to be transferred to the maternity unit where your baby is being transferred to. This is arranged by your local maternity unit. However, this is dependent on your current condition, bed availability at the receiving hospital and your local units ability to arrange transfer and provide a midwife to travel with you.
It may be that you need to arrange your own transport. The transport team can provide you with details of how to find the hospital and the unit once you arrive. For safety reason it is important you do not try to follow the ambulance because this can be dangerous.
A Kent, Surrey and Sussex neonatal transport team will transfer (repatriate) your baby back to your local hospital for their ongoing care when intensive or specialist care is no longer needed and a cot becomes available. Your local hospital will support you and your baby until your baby is ready to be discharged home. Due to the transfer service giving priority to the most poorly baby who needs transferring, sometimes there can be a delay in repatriating babies. We apologise for any delay and will try to keep this to a minimum.