Giving new parents precious time to bond 

15/02/2019 00:00 
UCLH has been named an “employer with heart” for being the first London hospital to introduce extra support and paid leave to staff whose babies are born prematurely or need extra special care.

We are among those leading the way after London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged organisations to ease the stress of parents during this often heart-rending time.

Ben Morrin, director of workforce at UCLH, said: “Having a baby born early can mean waiting weeks before you bring your baby home from hospital and added stress and emotional worry, juggling work and family commitments. Mums and dads across UCLH will now have extra time and help after any premature birth.

“That time should never have to be taken as normal maternity or paternity leave. We hope that by introducing extended leave we will give parents precious time to bond when any affected family is back home together.”

One mum who knows this only too well is our director of strategy Laura Churchward, whose twin baby boys were born 14 weeks prematurely. They were cared for by UCLH’s neonatal intensive care unit, and finally allowed home after three months.

Thankfully, both the twins pulled through and are now five-years-old and have started school.

However, Laura said the longer leave now available at UCLH would have been a huge help during the ordeal.

She said: “Work were fantastic and so supportive but I ended up taking unpaid leave at the end of my maternity leave, as I wanted a full year off with the boys.

“This meant that it was financially very tight and I had to borrow money from my dad, but it was so worth it to have the time with them at home, especially in light of their rough start.

“The longer leave would have alleviated an additional worry. I know that I was in a fortunate position to be able to afford to take unpaid leave and this will really help those parents who just can’t afford it.”

Following the introduction of our new policy, UCLH has been awarded “Employer with Heart” accreditation by the Premature baby charity The Smallest Thing.

Catriona Ogilvy, charity founder, said: “We are delighted that UCLH have taken these step towards supporting staff whose babies are born premature of poorly. They are leading the way alongside other London employers, such as the Mayor Sadiq Khan and Sony Music UK and we hope that other London hospitals follow in their example too. Visiting a baby in neonatal intensive care is an uncertain and traumatic time for families and it is right that parents are given the additional paid leave to fully recover and bond with their baby once at home.”

For more information about the charity, The Smallest Things

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