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Parent power win in Parliament for premature babies

Following seven years of fighting for change for families of premature babies, The Smallest Things is delighted that the Neonatal Leave & Pay Bill has been introduced in Parliament.

If the Bill becomes law, parents and carers of babies admitted to neonatal care will receive extra paid time off work.

More than 357,000 people have signed The Smallest Things’ petition to extend paid parental leave since 2015. Parents have shared their stories, photos and experiences to highlight the need for more time with their babies following neonatal care.

Neonatal Leave & Pay has been promised since the 2020 Budget but was left out of the Queen’s Speech that set out the government’s plans for 2022/23. The Smallest Things and its supporters have continued to call on the government to remember neonatal families and bring in legislation sooner for all parents.

Catriona Ogilvy, Founder of The Smallest Things, said:

“This legislation will give families the emotional and financial support they need at a time of great stress and trauma. No parent should be sitting next to an incubator or neonatal cot worrying about work and pay.

Each year, more than 100,000 premature and sick babies are admitted into UK neonatal units. There is currently no allowance for parents of these babies who can spend weeks or months in hospital before going home. Many parents return to work while their baby is still in hospital and many mothers spend a significant portion of their maternity leave in the neonatal unit.”

Matt Wilkinson, dad to Harry and Sam, said:

“Harry and Sam were born at 25 weeks’ gestation and sadly Sam passed away after 16 days. Harry spent 107 days in neonatal care, which took up 3.5 months of my wife Sally’s maternity leave. If we’d have had additional leave, we’d have been able to savour more time together as a family, come to terms with the loss of Sam and be more prepared for returning to work.”

Photo: The Smallest Things