Fears over 'dangerous' temperatures in hospital's maternity suite

A mother holding a newborn baby. Picture: PA/Fiona Hanson

A mother holding a newborn baby. Picture: PA/Fiona Hanson - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

A hospital worker has told of their concern after the recent heatwave saw temperatures soar to a "dangerous" 38C on the maternity ward of the region's largest hospital.

As the county experienced its hottest days on record this week, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital took a variety of measures to try and keep its patients cool - including additional refreshment rounds, shutting windows and closing curtains.

However, a maternity team member has said these efforts could not prevent "dangerous" temperatures for new babies and mums.

They said the Blakeney ward, where newborn babies and their mums are taken to after delivery, reached a sweltering 38C on Tuesday - while the delivery suite hit 32C.

The Lullaby Trust, a charity which helps new families prevent sudden infant death syndrome, recommends babies are cared for between 16C and 20C, as they are unable to regulate their temperature in the same way adults can.

The staffer, who did not wish to be named, said: "The heat inside the maternity units was unbearable for the new mums, babies and staff. Other areas of the hospital have air conditioning, but there is nothing in this part of the hospital.

"Management needs to look at this immediately as it is dangerous for everyone in there, especially the newborns who can't regulate their body temperatures as well as adults.

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'Mums were desperate to go home early to escape the heat but that is also risky if they are sent home too early.

'We get complaints all year round that is too hot in there, so this shouldn't come as a surprise to management. It is highlighted
constantly."

A spokesman for the NNUH said: "We want to thank all our staff for their efforts during the heatwave this week and we have been encouraging staff to take regular breaks and stay hydrated during shifts.

"In maternity services, all hot weather adjustments were actioned, including changes to the work-wear and uniform policy and wearing of scrubs, additional breaks for staff and encouraging the use of fans and cooling towels.

"Our heatwave plan also includes extra refreshment rounds and the offering of cold drinks and to monitor fluid intake of at-risk patients as well as recommending cold food and foods with high water content.

"Extra water and ice lollies for staff and patients were also provided across the Trust.”