Neonatal Unit (special care for babies)


Special care for babies is provided in our newborn (neonatal) unit (NNU). Having a baby in neonatal care is a worrying time for parents but we are here to make sure you and your family is well looked after.

Our highly-qualified and dedicated team provide compassionate care with the support of state-of-the-art technology. We will make sure you receive all the information, communication and support you need throughout your time with us.

More on what we do

Babies can be admitted to neonatal care for a number of reasons, including if they:

  • are born early
  • are very small and have a low birthweight
  • have an infection
  • have a mother who has diabetes
  • have jaundice
  • had a very difficult birth
  • are waiting for, or recovering from, surgery

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 most poorly 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 Hosiptal 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 needs to ensure a safe and comfortable transfer.

Visiting the neonatal unit

Whilst your baby is on the neonatal unit, you will be given a car parking pass. This means that you will be able to park in the pay and display car park without having to pay. This pass does not guarantee you a space though. Only one pass per family can be issued. 

We have five family rooms on the neonatal unit. They are available for families. We also have a number of camp beds which can be used to enable you to stay with your baby.

For the safety of all babies the neonatal unit is a secure, monitored area. There is a 24/7 manned reception area on the first floor of the maternity unit. The security team will check you are with any visitor before issuing an ID badges and allowing access to the NNU.

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.

Generally our visiting is 2.30pm -8.30pm, but we realise that everyone’s circumstances are different. Please talk to us so we can ensure your family's own needs are considered.

Brothers and sisters are an important part of your family and are welcome at any time.

We would ask that you do not bring non-related children (unless they live in your family home) into the NNU as this reduces the risk of infection. Children are known to carry lots of bugs so this helps us reduce the risk to your baby.


We have 26 cots at 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
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
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
This is provided for babies who need some additional support or treatment and are cared for on the post natal ward.

Our team

We have approximately 60 members of staff who will be caring and supporting your family. There is a team of registered nurses, nursery nurses and health care assistants. There is a sister on each shift who is the ward coordinator. Their role is to ensure the smooth running of the NNU. If you have any concerns or queries regarding the care of your baby, they will be available.

The senior nurse and matron are accountable for the operational management of the neonatal unit and are also available to discuss any concerns you may have with them. They can be contacted on 01392 406199.

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 seven 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 are:

  • Dr Nagendra Venkata
  • Dr Nigel Osborne
  • Dr David Mabin
  • Dr Nichola O’Shea
  • Dr David Bartle
  • Dr Jim Hart
  • Dr David McGregor
  • Dr Christina Oliver

Your consultant may continue to see you and your baby after discharge in our outpatient clinic. If necessary, your baby’s consultant may refer your baby to other specialists, this will always be discussed with you. You can discuss any aspect of your baby's care and treatment with your consultant. If you are not able to be on the ward round, an individual appointment with the consultant can be made – please ask your nurse.

We have a number of junior doctors, some of whom rotate to the children’s ward. We also have some ANNP's (advanced neonatal nurse practitioners).

As well as the doctors and nurses who are based within the neonatal unit, you may meet specialists from others departments as well.

We also have a fantastic support team of cleaners and assistants who keep the unit clean, stocked and tidy.

Where to find us

RD&E Wonford, Barrack Rd, Exeter EX2 5DW

Centre for Women's Health, 1st Floor

Contact us

You can contact the unit on any of the following numbers:

  • 01392 406623
  • 01392 406621
  • 01392 406625

Patient leaflets and documents

Supporting you

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. It also provides information about the staff working in the Neonatal unit that you may come into contact with while your baby is being cared for in hospital.

Women’s Health Counsellors

Women’s Health Counsellors are part of the team providing care in The Centre for Women’s Health.  We offer emotional support for parents with babies on the Neonatal Unit.

Parents who have had babies on the Neonatal Unit - referrals for counselling support include:-

  • Emotional debriefing for parents following their baby/babies discharge from the Neonatal Unit. Parents need to contact the service within 4 months.
  • Bereavement counselling following the death of a baby. Parents need to contact the service within 4 months

Contact 01392 406678 or


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