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Neonatal Unit

This page was last updated: February 16th, 2023

Babies who need a higher level of medical and nursing support and born after 27 weeks’ gestation are cared for here.

A baby can be admitted to a Neonatal Unit when they:

  • are born early – 1 baby in 13 is born early, and babies born before 34 weeks may need extra help with breathing, feeding and keeping warm
  • are very small and have a low birthweight
  • have an infection
  • have jaundice requiring treatment
  • had a very difficult birth

Our Neonatal Unit

We are on the 1st floor of the Maternity wing (Princess Alexandra Unit) on the same floor as the Delivery Suite and The Birthing Unit.

We have 20 cots on the unit, all of which are designed to make sure your baby receives the best possible care from our highly-trained doctors and nurses. The cots provide different levels of care depending on the needs of the baby. These levels are termed intensive care, high-dependency care, special care and transitional care.

Intensive care

Babies who are very small or unwell and need help with their breathing will need to be looked after in intensive care. Babies who are undergoing assessment after delivery will also be admitted here.

High-dependency care (HDU)

This is provided for babies without life threatening problems but who still need a great deal of observation and support and for those who are recovering from critical illness.

Special care (S.C.)

This is provided for babies who have less serious problems, who do not require continuous observation and or who are stable and growing. In the neonatal unit, special care is provided in cubicles A to F.

Transitional Care (TC)

This is provided for babies who need some additional support or treatment and are cared for on the post natal ward.

As well as looking after your baby, our staff will be on hand to talk over any fears or worries you may have. It’s natural to feel anxious at this difficult time, especially if your baby is in an incubator or on a breathing machine. There might also be tubes and wires attached to their face and body.

Once your baby is stable, you’ll be able to hold her or him. We encourage parents to be involved with all aspects of their baby’s care. We have double bedrooms, fold down beds and reclining chairs to allow you to stay as close to your baby as possible.

Our unit looks after babies with a range of conditions and problems but the smallest and sickest babies will be transferred to a more specialised unit (called Neonatal Intensive Care) in Plymouth or Bristol.

Peninsula Neonatal Network Transport Service

The Peninsula Neonatal Network Transport Team is based at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, and has been specifically trained to transfer critically ill babies.
The team, along with medical staff, is responsible for the safe transfer of your baby from one hospital if required. This may be required due to your baby needing specialist treatment or surgery at another hospital, or may be needed to transfer them to a hospital closer to home.
Your baby will be transferred in a transport incubator. It is specifically designed to give your baby the care they need to ensure a safe and comfortable transfer.

The Neonatal Team

We have approximately 50 members of staff who will be caring and supporting your family. There is a team of registered nurses and health care assistants. A shift leader is on duty 24hrs who is responsible for the smooth running of the NNU. If you have any concerns or queries regarding the care of your baby, they will be available.

The Neonatal Lead Consultant, Matron and Service Manager are accountable for the operational management of the neonatal unit and are also available to discuss any concerns you may have.

The nurse looking after you and your baby on any given shift will introduce themselves and work with you to plan your baby’s care.

We have a number of junior doctors, some of whom rotate to the children’s wards Also our ANNP’s (Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioners) provide specialised Neonatal Care and management.

We have 10 neonatal consultants who, between them, provide 24-hour cover, seven days a week. Consultants are our most senior doctors within the neonatal unit. This means that they have extensive experience in paediatrics and now specialise in the care of babies.

Our Consultants

  • Dr Chris Warren (Neonatal Lead)
  • Dr Katy Huxstep
  • Dr Chris Williams
  • Andrew Mullett
  • Dr Chris Bell
  • Dr Ellie Lawes
  •  Dr Sam Padmanabhan
  • Dr Kumar
  • Dr Tom Fontaine
  • Dr Andrew Collinson

Your consultant may continue to see you and your baby after discharge as an outpatient. You can discuss any aspect of your baby’s care and treatment with your consultant.


Helen Greenhill

Service Manager

Naomi Wakeley

We also have a fantastic support team of Clinical Support Workers and House Keepers who keep the unit clean, stocked and tidy.


Parents are welcome to be with their baby any time of the day or night. Due to Covid -19 pandemic, we can only allow siblings and other family members between 2pm and 7 pm each day, limiting the number of people at cot side to 2 people.

We have five parent rooms on the neonatal unit. We also have a number of camp beds which can be used to enable you to stay with your baby.

There is a parent kitchen and shower facilities for parents to use when staying on the unit.

For the safety of all babies the neonatal unit is a secure, monitored area. There is a video call bell to enter the unit to offer security.

To help prevent infection and protect your baby, you will need to remove your outdoor coat and wash your hands upon entering the unit. If you feel unwell, it is important that you stay away from the NNU.

Contact Us

Main reception 01872 252667
Nurses Station 01872 262036

South West Neonatal Network

Around 60,000 babies are born across the South West region every year and approximately up to 10% may require care that is provided by the neonatal units across the region.

Our neonatal unit is part of a network called the South West Neonatal Network. You can visit the website for information that will help you understand how and where neonatal care is provided across the region and what this might mean for you and your family.

Animated video made by South West Neonatal Network for families

Map of the South West Neonatal Network

The South West Neonatal Operational Delivery Network (SW NODN), is one of twelve clinically managed Operationally Delivery Networks (ODNs) for neonatal service in the UK. It was brought together as a formal non statutory organisation following recommendations from the Department of Health in 2013 to ensure babies and their families received high quality, equitable, accessible and clinically effective neonatal care.

The SWODN serves a population of 4.7 million people and covers a 9000 square mile footprint making it, geographically, the largest network in England, stretching from the Isles of Scilly up to the north of the region where it borders Wales, and 7 English counties from Oxfordshire round to Dorset.

The SWODN is made up of twelve Neonatal Units (NNUs) including three Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs), six Local Neonatal Units (LNUs) and three Special Care Units (SCUs). The network has a live birth rate of approximately 45,000 babies per annum of which ~10% are admitted to the NNU every year.

Interactive virtual tour of the Neonatal Unit at the Royal Cornwall Hospital

This interactive virtual tour of the Neonatal Unit at the Royal Cornwall Hospital allows viewers to find out more about the facilities, the team, and equipment by using the tag points which give information, guidelines, and tips.

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