There are 27 hospitals across London which provide neonatal care. These hospitals work closely together in a network to provide specialist care for sick new-born babies. Pathways of care are based on three geographical areas: north central and north east London, north west London and south London each of which have their own Clinical Oversight Group (COG). If your baby needs specialist care, where possible, this will be provided in the appropriate centre in your area.  All networks face challenges and need to ensure that cot capacity is maintained therefore as soon as your baby is well enough they will be repatriated back to your local hospital for the rest of their high dependency or special care.

The aims of the Network are:

  • For mothers and babies to receive the care they need, as close to home as possible
  • To promote and share best practice
  • To give families consistent and high quality information and support, and involve them in the care they receive

Most mothers have a normal pregnancy and support for this is provided in all hospitals, in birth centres and at home. Around one in ten babies need additional specialised care after birth. These babies are cared for within a neonatal unit by specialist trained nurses and doctors. There are three different levels of neonatal care: special care, high dependency care and intensive care. Sometimes it will be necessary to transfer babies to different hospitals within the network to provide the specialist care required.

In its mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board 2013-2015 the Department of Health set clear expectations of reduction in neonatal mortality and still birth. Over 12,000 babies born in London every year are in need of specialist care. This amounts to around 33 admissions per day to neonatal units in London.

The London Neonatal Operational Delivery Network (ODN) supported by NHS England (NHSE) (London region) is hosted by the Evelina London Children’s Hospital, Part of the Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS FT, and aims to improve outcomes for neonates in London. Like other NHS networks, ODNs need the expertise of clinicians if they are to run efficiently and effectively to deliver ongoing improvements in patient experience and outcomes.

The Network will improve outcomes and patient experience by

  • Improving access and egress to specialist neonatal services
  • Improving the quality of neonatal services
  • Supporting the development of the neonatal workforce
  • Working collaoboratively with service users to provide a patient supportive environment
  • Working closely with maternity and paediatric services to ensure a seemless pathway of care

Find out more:

Unit information

Meet the team

From time to time we may advertise network job opportunities.  These will appear on the NHS Jobs Website.

Neonatal care

Your baby’s care will be tailored to their specific needs, neonatal units provide four different types of care.

Level 1 Special Care Unit (SCBU) – for babies who need:

  • continuous monitoring of their breathing or heart rate
  • additional oxygen
  • tube feeding
  • phototherapy (neonatal jaundice)
  • recovery and convalescence from other care.

Level 2 Local Neonatal Unit (LNU) – for babies who need:

  • short term intensive care
  • support following apnoeic attacks
  • continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
  • parenteral nutrition (tube feeding)

 Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) – for babies who need:

  • respiratory support (ventilation)
  • additional support due to weighing less than 1,000g
  • CPAP and are born at less than 28 weeks gestation
  • support due to severe respiratory disease
  • surgery

In addition to the three levels of care with neonatal units, there is transitional care.

Transitional care

This level of care means your baby still has some needs but is almost ready to go home. Most importantly, the mum becomes the main carer with support from a nursery nurse or other staff on the unit.