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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 February, 2005, 16:12 GMT
Fears for future of neonatal care
A Premature baby
Patients' groups say there is a lack of specialist staff
Patient groups have met to discuss the future of maternity services in Mid Sussex hospitals.

The Primary Care Trust wants to staff the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath with specialist nurses.

But patient representatives fear that advanced neonatal nurse practitioners will be in short supply and the unit will close due to lack of staff.

The formal consultation process runs until 22 February.

A spokesman for the patient and public involvement forum said: "If the SCBU has to close, very low risk births will take place in a midwife-led unit in Mid Sussex while the majority of women at higher risk will go to Brighton."

He said that in the face of national doctor shortages "there was no guarantee that nurse specialists could be retained or recruited in the longer term".

The forum also heard from neonatal specialists.

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