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From neonatal to Nordic after Swansea nurse wins scholarship to Denmark

Image shows a neonatal nurse standing next to clinical equipment.

A neonatal nurse’s role in a Wales-wide drive to improve the care of mums and babies will see her fly out to a major event in Denmark this spring.

Singleton Hospital-based Lora Alexander has had a poster presentation accepted for the Council of International Neonatal Nurses annual conference and has been awarded a scholarship to travel there.

Her presentation at the event, taking place in Aalborg in May, will focus on the Maternal and Neonatal Safety Support Programme in Wales, or MatNeo SSP Cymru.

This was launched in 2022 to improve and equalise maternity and neonatal services across Wales.

The first phase was a review of existing services to identify opportunities to improve care. It was conducted by a team of leads and champions embedded within all health boards and the Welsh Ambulance Service.

Their findings were published in a 2023 report, Improving Together for Wales. The second phase is now under way to consider how best to move forward with the priorities highlighted in the report.

Lora originally trained as an adult nurse, transferring to neonatal services at Singleton Hospital in 2011 and remaining there ever since. She has since trained as a nurse educator too, gaining a master's in health education.

Image shows a neonatal nurse Now she has a split role, working as a neonatal professional development nurse and as Swansea Bay’s neonatal champion for MatNeo SSP Cymru, with midwife Emma Richards the health board’s maternity champion. Both have worked closely together and with colleagues from within their services.

“We know there are inequalities through the whole of Wales,” Lora said. “Some people are doing really good things, but other places don’t know about them. So the idea was to find a baseline of what all the neonatal and maternity units had in Wales.

“From there the idea is to improve everywhere with a little bit more support. We know where the bright spots are, so how can we spread and scale these throughout the whole of Wales?

“Where can we support the areas that need that extra support? How can we bring in extra training to support all the different units?”

Lora had the idea of submitting a poster presentation to the Denmark conference to celebrate the work of MatNeo SSP across Wales.

However, submissions could only be made by those able to attend and the cost was likely to prove prohibitive.

Lora belongs to the Neonatal Nurses Association, or NNA, a voluntary organisation offering education, support and training – as well as scholarships for members to attend conferences.

“The NNA offered a scholarship for anyone who is putting a poster in,” Lora said. “I contacted my MatNeo manager and asked if it was something MatNeo would be interested in me doing. And she said – yes, go for it. I put the poster in, and it got accepted. And I won the scholarship.

“I’m very excited. There is someone else from North Wales who is also going as part of the NNA so we’re going to meet up and travel together.

“The theme this year is collaboration between services. So the poster is about the collaboration that has happened through MatNeo.

“We’re all working together. It’s a brilliant network. If any of us has a question we post it to our Teams group, and we’ll get an answer straight away. It has increased collaboration and communication enormously.”



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