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Garfield H, Westgate B, Chaudhary R, King M, O'Curry S, Archibald SJ. Parental and staff experiences of restricted parental presence on a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit during COVID-19. Acta Paediatr. 2021 Aug 26.

Aim: The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on parental presence in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) during the first wave. The NICU team at the Rosie Hospital, Cambridge, endeavoured to explore the impact on parent and staff experiences of supporting parents throughout the period when visiting was restricted, between 13th August and 11th September 2020.

Methods: Bespoke surveys were designed following the first lockdown to gather information on the impact on staff and parents. The questions were developed in the context of initial observations and conversations with staff and parents.

Results: The findings of this study have illustrated the extent of the restrictions on parental wellbeing and mood, with the restrictions having had an adverse effect on these. In addition, the findings illustrate the adverse effect that the parents reported due to the restricted presence in terms of their babies’ wellbeing, parent-infant bonding, partners’ wellbeing, parental confidence, the ability to breastfeed confidently and parents’ access to the medical teams.

Conclusion: The findings of this study have a number of clinical implications for parents and staff. Namely, the data supported the decision not to close NICU again during the second and third waves.

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