On occasion, a new-born baby is moved from the hospital they were born in to another hospital, called the receiving hospital. In general, the reason for transferring a baby is so they can get more specialised care. In Ireland, the National Neonatal Transport Programme is responsible for the transfer of babies. This service is available 24/7.

How Will My Baby Be Transferred?

To start, transferring your baby to the receiving hospital will only happen when the medical team know that your baby is stable enough to take the journey.

The transfer of a sick baby from one neonatal unit (NNU) to another is a complex procedure.  It requires a lot of planning, coordination, and skilled staff.  A special transport incubator, which can provide full intensive care support, will be used when transferring your baby.  This transport incubator can be secured safely in the ambulance.  A dedicated neonatal transfer nurse and a neonatal doctor will go in the ambulance with your baby.  On arriving to the new hospital, or the receiving hospital, there will be an official sign over of medical information to the receiving hospital.

On rare occasions, the Irish Air-Corp service may help with a baby transfer.  The Air-Corp are used when time is critical and the journey long, or when there are adverse road conditions.  The helicopter used can secure the transport incubator. 

Mom and Baby

A baby is transferred if they need more specialised care

Can I Travel With My Baby To The New Neonatal Unit?

Your baby’s medical team understand that transferring your baby to another hospital is a difficult time for you.  In general, hospitals try to care for mother and baby in the same location. 

If you are not well enough to be transferred with your baby, every effort will be made to maintain good communication between you and the staff in the receiving NNU until you are ready to make the journey to the new hospital.  If you are well enough at the time of your baby’s transfer, you will be transferred to the receiving hospital.  However, for safety reasons you cannot travel in the back of the ambulance with your baby.  For your own safety please do not try follow the ambulance by car as it may be travelling at speed.  The staff at the receiving NNU will welcome you and will show you around the NNU. 

As soon as your baby is well enough, they will be transferred back to your local hospital.  This is beneficial to you and your baby for many reasons.  First of all, it is a sign that your baby is getting better, responding to treatment, and no longer requires specialised treatment.  It will also be easier for you to visit your baby in the NNU and to get involved in their day-to-day care.  Your involvement in your baby’s care is a critical component in their recovery.  It will also give you the chance to get to know your local NNU, which will provide your baby’s longer-term care and follow up after discharge home.