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An NHS Foundation Trust has become the first in the country to say it will extend the leave of mums of premature babies and pay mums in full until their premature baby is discharged from hospital and normal maternity pay commences.
Medway NHS Foundation Trust employs 3,500 people. Previously, NHS policy at the Trust allowed mums of babies born prematurely to take two weeks leave immediately after childbirth and the rest following their baby’s discharge from hospital.
However, many premature babies spend weeks, sometimes months, in neonatal care before they are well enough to go home from hospital.
Catriona Ogilvy, founder of campaign organisation 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.”
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. 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.”