Brighton children's charity Rockinghorse launches Christmas appeal

Kelly Parker, community midwifery manager of the Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust
Kelly Parker, community midwifery manager of the Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust

A children’s charity has launched a campaign to support the care of newborn babies.

Rockinghorse is raising funds with its Christmas appeal to buy bilirubin monitors to help community midwives on home visits or at clinics detect jaundice.

The monitors will be used by a team of 75 midwives based at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, in Brighton, and the Princess Royal Hospital, in Haywards Heath, which is run by the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Jaundice is a build up of the compound bilirubin in the blood created by red blood cells breaking down and is said to be a common condition that affects newborns. A high level of bilirubin requires treatment and if left untreated there is a risk of brain damage and organ failure.

Community midwifery manager at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust Kelly Parker said: “If a community midwife or support worker suspects jaundice, our current course of action is to refer the baby immediately to A&E for assessment.

“This is often a day or two after the family have been discharged from hospital.

“The baby will have a simple meter reading test to measure bilirubin levels in the blood. While some babies are admitted for further treatment, the vast majority of newborns will have a normal reading and be sent home.

“However, the whole experience may have exposed mum and baby to a risk of infections and possibly a long wait for a simple procedure."

She added: “My team carry out 40 to 60 home visits every day across the county and due to how common mild jaundice is, a lot of babies are being referred to hospital for a bilirubin test.

“Any suspected case must be checked in the hospital and this has led to a growing frustration from community midwives who cannot carry out the jaundice check themselves.

“As a medical professional, I constantly strive for excellence and I would love for my team to have the opportunity to improve the post-natal care we offer to new mums and babies.”

Rockinghorse has pledged to buy the same monitors used in A&E departments. It says each monitor costs £1,150 and it is hoping to raise at least £11,000 to buy

ten monitors.

Appeals and trusts fundraising manager at Rockinghorse Louise Bartha said the equipment will bring ‘huge benefits’ to the care provided by the midwife team – said to cover 500 square miles across Sussex, visiting surgeries and centres and looking after 6,000 mums and babies a year.

She said: “At home monitoring would ease the worry for new parents who wouldn’t need to make trips to hospital during what is already a stressful time for them.”

As well as supporting the Royal Sussex and the Princess Royal, Brighton-based Rockinghorse is the official fundraising arm of the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital.