Medway NHS Foundation Trust has become the first in England to sign up to The Smallest Things ‘Employer with Heart’ Charter, pledging its commitment to support the needs of premature babies and their families.
Current NHS terms and conditions afford new mums whose baby has been born prematurely to split their maternity leave, allowing them to take two weeks leave immediately after childbirth, and the rest following their baby’s discharge from hospital.
One in eight babies are born prematurely and subsequently parents have a reduced time to bond with their baby with the period from birth, to discharge for babies born prematurely typically being several weeks, or even months. The Trust has therefore taken the step to support new mums in this intervening period by committing to ensure they receive their normal pay up until the point that their normal maternity pay commences.
James Devine, Deputy Chief Executive and Executive Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development said: “We are proud to have become the first NHS Trust in the country to sign up to the Employer with Heart Charter.
“Our staff work tirelessly every day to look after our patients and we want to ensure that they also receive the support that they need when they have difficulty in their own personal lives. We know that this will affect only a small number of our staff each year, but it is so important that we care for those who are caring for others.
“We understand that it can be an extremely difficult and worrying time for those who experience premature labour and the last thing we want is for our hardworking staff to feel they have to worry about work or whether they can afford to take time off to be with their baby”
Catriona Ogilvy, founder of The Smallest Things, said: “We are delighted that Medway NHS Foundation Trust has signed up to our Employer with Heart charter and will give parents of babies born prematurely the extra time they need. Visiting a fragile baby on a neonatal unit for weeks, sometimes months, is terrifying and shouldn’t be counted as maternity or paternity leave. This extra time will give parents more chance to bond with their babies, take care of them at home for longer and recover from the trauma themselves.”
Find out more about the charter, information for employers and employees here – The Smallest Things Employer with Heart Charter
More than 219,000 people have signed the change.org petition calling upon Government to ensure that all families have the extra time they need following premature birth
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