A video messaging service to help reduce separation anxiety for parents of premature or sick babies is set to launch at Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, thanks to the NHS Trust’s dedicated charity.

It allows neonatal staff to record and upload video diaries, which parents can then access when they are away from the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU), helping to reassure them of their child’s wellbeing. When babies are discharged from the unit, the videos can be downloaded by the parent as a record of their child’s journey. 

Funded by Royal Surrey County Hospital Charity, vCreate will launch on World Prematurity Day (Sunday 17 November), a global day to raise awareness of premature birth and the sometimes devastating impact it can have on families. Parent support group and part of the charity, Positive Touch, will also provide cakes and milestone cards to families in SCBU, in celebration of the day.  

Parent Bridget Walton – whose daughter Zoe spent eight weeks in Royal Surrey’s SCBU – was instrumental in introducing the service to the Trust. Bridget first heard about the programme after seeing it in use in a hospital in Oxford, during her time spent as a parent reviewer of neonatal units around the country. 

She said: “Having a baby in hospital is one of the hardest things any parent has to go through, as you are unable to be with them 24/7. I spent every minute I could with Zoe, but it’s not possible to be there all the time – especially for parents with older children. 

“My husband John was working away at the time, so he felt he missed out on a lot and it would have been brilliant for him to be able to access the video service to keep updated on her progress. This could have made a huge difference to us and would have made it easier for us to be apart from her. I’m so pleased future families with babies in SCBU will benefit.”

Funding for the service, which is free for parents, was made possible thanks to a generous £5,000 donation to the charity from Surrey-based video games developer, Fireproof Studios. 

Damien Rayfield, Director of Fireproof Studios, said: “As with all brilliant ideas, vCreate is a simple concept that is very effective: it's fantastic to see the comfort it brings to the families whose children are being cared for in the Special Care Baby Unit.

"Here at Fireproof we are very proud to have helped support Royal Surrey County Hospital Charity in this venture and we are committed to supporting the hospital going forward.”

The company has also pledged to support the charity’s Closer to Care campaign, which will deliver a new SCBU at the hospital, giving parents the option to stay overnight next to their babies’ cot – something which is currently not possible at many neonatal units across the country. 

Fiona England, Practice Development Sister at Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Putting families at the centre of care is what our Special Care Baby Unit is passionate about. We want families to be able to celebrate milestones and share precious moments, even when they are physically unable to be with their babies. We are looking forward to surprising families with snapshots of the truly amazing things their little ones can do.”

To find out more about the charity’s work or to make a donation to Closer to Care, visitwww.rschcharity.org.uk/closertocare or call 01483 464146.