Neonatal outreach services provide post discharge support to babies with additional needs and their families. This includes support for nasogastric feeding and supplemental home oxygen use for babies with bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). People potentially at higher risk of serious COVID-19 infection have been encouraged to shield and vulnerable babies requiring supplemental oxygen were in this category.
This study reviews the impact of COVID-19 on a tertiary Neonatal service outreach team during the first UK COVID wave and lockdown in March-May 2020 compared to March-May 2019. Outreach service activity was captured on a team activity database including home visits, phone contacts, babies on home oxygen and overnight saturation monitoring.
Outreach home visits increased by 33%, telephone contacts increased by 24% and additional support was required by families with 20 virtual clinics instead of 7 face to face clinics. However, emergency department attendances by babies receiving supplemental home oxygen dropped significantly. Emergency department attendances for these babies were over 700% higher pre-Covid than during this Covid lockdown period (1.8 vs 0.25 attendances / baby in home oxygen).
It was possible to maintain neonatal outreach support with adapted working including risk assessments and appropriate PPE. Feedback on the neonatal outreach service provision during Covid lockdown was received from 75% families with babies in supplemental home oxygen; 83% of them strongly agreed and 17% agreed that a high quality of care was provided during COVID-19. All respondents were extremely likely to recommend the service to friends and families.