Critical care decisions in fetal and neonatal medicine: ethical issues


Published 15/11/2006

CCD front cover
This report discusses the ethical, legal and social issues raised and proposes guidelines on giving intensive care to babies born before 26 weeks.
Baby incubator

The Council would like to thank everyone who contributed to the consultation on critical care decisions in fetal and neonatal medicine. The responses reflected diverse views and provided useful and interesting information. View individual consultation responses.

Download the consultation paper.

The consultation posed questions such as:

  • In which circumstances, if any, would it not be appropriate to use medicine and surgery to prolong the life of the newborn?
  • Who is best placed to judge the quality of life for a child?
  • How should decisions be made about whether or not to intervene to prolong the life of a fetus or newborn baby?
  • Would drawing up more directive professional guidance be helpful to parents and professionals?
  • Would drawing up new legislation in this area be helpful to parents and professionals?

Workshops with young people

During the progress of the Working Party, the Council worked with Ecsite-UK, the UK Network of Science Centres and Museums, to develop workshops for young people on the issues surrounding the treatment of premature babies. The Working Party provided advice on the content of the workshop materials and individual members took part as guest speakers.

Fact-finding Meetings

The Working Party has held a number of fact-finding meetings with organisations and individuals as part of its research, including:

  • The University of Nottingham, Academic Division of Child Health, Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham
  • The Department of Neonatal Medicine, St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester
  • BLISS, the premature baby charity
  • Department of Neonatal Medicine, Homerton Hospital, Hackney, London
  • Ms Jane Fisher, Director, Antenatal Results and Choices
  • Ickburgh School, Clapton
  • Healthcare commissioners and managers: Dr Daphne Austin, Specialist Services Public Health Consultant, West Midlands; Mr Simon Brake, Lead Commissioning Manager, West Midlands Specialist Services Agency; Dr Bryan Gill, Consultant in Neonatology, Leeds General Infirmary; and Ms Ruth Moore, Network Manager, Staffordshire, Shropshire and Black Country Network University Hospital of North Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent
  • The Espace éthique de l’Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris, France
  • Meeting with experts in the Netherlands
  • Inter-faith Workshop with representatives of a wide range of different beliefs and perspectives