Who we are

The Canterbury Neonatal Service provides special and intensive care for all babies born in the wider Canterbury region. This region extends to Timaru in the South, Greymouth in the West and Kaikoura in the North (approximately 20000 square kilometres).           

In addition all newborn babies requiring surgery in the South Island, which is approximately 50,000 square kilometres (excluding the Nelson region), will be cared for within this service. If a baby requires cardiac surgery then once stabilised, the baby will be transferred to New Zealand's/Aotearoa's only Paediatric Cardiac Surgery Unit, which is in Auckland.

In view of the large geographical area that this service is responsible for, a highly skilled Neonatal retrieval team is available 24 hours to transport babies to and from our tertiary referral centre in Christchurch/Ōtautahi. However when emergencies occur in a home setting the ambulance is called first. In 2009, approximately 100 transports by helicopter, fixed wing aircraft, or ambulance.

The Neonatal Service currently provides 10 intensive care cots and 28 Level 2 cots, a total of 38. In 2010, 830 newborn babies/peepi were admitted to the Neonatal Service. The gestational age varied from less than 26 weeks to 42 weeks. The smallest baby admitted weighed less than 500g.​

BF.JPGWe recognise that breastfeeding is an integral part of the care that our babies/peepi receive and this is both facilitated and encouraged in accordance with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) joint statement in 1989. This is supported by the BFHI.

The Service has a strong Nursing and Medical research philosophy. At any time there are numerous consented studies or reviews in progress.  To facilitate this process there are Neonatal Research Nurses employed to assist in the management of some of the Neon​atal studies. More information on current studies in progress is provided here.

The care that we provide, is guided by the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumer's Rights and The Treaty of Waitangi/ Te Tiriti o​​ Waitangi.  Please see our Service ​Philosophy.

The Canterbury Neonatal Service prides itself on its multi-disciplinary approach and teamwork when caring for the babies/pēpi​ and family/whānau​ of Canterbury/Waitaha. We are constantly sustaining and improving the type of care that we provide for our community/takiwhā​​. Central to this is our reflective practice and our desire to base as much of our model of care as possible, on current evidence based practice.

Neonatal Services, Christchurch Women's Hospital


ACNM: Associate Clinical Nurse Manager

Provides clinical coordination and professional leadership, support, guidance and coaching to nursing staff of the neonatal service on a shift by shift basis ensuring the provision of safe, effective quality care.

Clinical Director

Provides leadership for the service in conjunction with the Nurse Manager. The CD is responsible for co-ordinating the team providing the medical management of the babies in our service, and represents the service nationally and internationally.

Clinical Nurse Specialist (Advanced Neonatal Practice) CNS (ANP)

Clinical Nurse specialist (advanced neonatal practice); CNS(ANP) are senior nurses who have many years experience and have done speciality training to work on the medical team. They rotate around different areas of the Neonatal service with the registrars covering different areas of neonatal, postnatal, delivery suite and retrievals. They are responsible for the day to day medical management of your infants and will discuss any concerns with the Neonatal consultant on duty.


The Neonatal Dietitian is here to make sure your baby receives the best nutrition and she will be monitoring the growth and nutritional intake of your baby. She is on the morning ward rounds to look at growth charts, to discuss and implement feeding changes. If you have questions regarding what nutrition your baby is receiving or your babies growth then ask your nurse to contact her and she can come and discuss this with you. She is also able to provide advice for breastfeeding mothers on their own nutrition as this can be an issue for many busy parents. She is available Monday to Friday.

Discharge facilitator

The role of the discharge facilitator is to assist in the preparation of families transitioning to home. In particular, families who are discharging with ongoing medical needs such as home oxygen and tube feeding. Discharge facilitators are part of a multi-disciplinary team caring for the family and liaise closely with the Neonatal Outreach Nurses. Contact details are 364 ​​4244 or pager numbers 5291 / 5487.

Enrolled Nurse

Provides quality nursing care, support and education to babies and their parents within the special care/level 2 environment of the Neonatal Service.

Hearing Screening Team

Hearing screening is offered to all babies admitted to NICU as part of the national Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and Early Intervention Programme. At some point during a baby's NICU journey, parents/caregivers are given written information about the programme. We have a team of four NICU nurses who complete screening of the babies admitted to NICU. As a baby nears discharge home (usually after 36 weeks), parents/caregivers will be approached by one of the nurses on the hearing screening team to see if they would be interested in having their baby screened. This is a good opportunity for parents/caregivers to ask any questions they may have about the screening. Hearing screening is a simple process, and parents/caregivers are given the results from the screen straight away.

Hospital Aide

To facilitate appropriate cleaning and setting up of equipment to support the Clinical Team in the care of the neonate and to ensure adequate stock levels are maintained.

Infection Control and Prevention Nurse Specialist

The Clinical Nurse Specialist in Infection Prevention and Control (IP&C) is an information/advisory resource who has specialist education in this field of nursing. This specialist nurse can provide education and support in relation to any IP&C issues both to parents and staff in neonatal unit e.g. infectious disease and how we control these in the unit. In addition, there are printed resources available which may also be useful for parents.

Karitane Nurse

Provides a strong parent craft model of nursing care to babies and their parents within the special care/level 2 environment, this includes consistent and current advice on areas such as lactation and discharge preparation.

Māori Health Worker 

Kia ora koutou. Ko Kathy Simmons toku ingoa, ko Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairoa toku Iwi. Kaiawhina Whaea me nga Pēpi. I am part of the multidisciplinary team and my role is to tautoko (support) and awhi (help) parents on their journey in NICU and provide a culturally safe environment.

Medical Technicians

Clinical Engineering takes care of the medical equipment and systems. This includes advice on the purchase, operation and the maintenance of medical equipment. The development of medical equipment systems to meet the clinical requirements is also included.

Milk Room Aide

To facilitate the appropriate making of milk feeds and milk additives for infants within the Neonatal Services.

Neonatal Nurse Manager

The nurse manager coordinates nursing and the support team across neonatal inpatient and outreach services, facilitating and promoting excellence in patient care.

Neonatal Outreach Nurses

A team of neonatal nurses who follow up a selection of babies from the neonatal unit after discharge to provide support and advice.


Consultant Neonatal Paediatricians: the paediatricians are responsible for the overall medical management of your baby. We have six neonatal consultants who rotate through service in the neonatal unit. You will see a lot more of the consultant who is "on service" for that week. If you would like to speak to your consultant please indicate to your nurse or the ACNM on duty. They will also follow your baby up after discharge if indicated.


A Clinical Pharmacist visits the Neonatal Unit each morning (Monday - Friday). The visit will usually include attending the ward round and providing medication dosing advice to the medical team and to any parents who may have medication related queries about their infant's care. As part of the ward visit the pharmacist will also check medication charts to ensure that all prescriptions have been written correctly and that the medicines can be given in a safe and timely manner. 

Nearer to the time of discharge home, if your infant will need medicines to be continued at home, the pharmacist will help to ensure that this can happen as easily as possible. In some cases there may be discharge medicines that need to be dispensed from the hospital pharmacy, rather than your local community pharmacy after discharge and the Neonatal Clinical Pharmacist and Discharge Facilitator will be able to advise you if this is the case. During your infant's stay in the NICU please do ask the pharmacist if you have any questions about medication that you think they may be able to help with.


Physiotherapists assess infants for their development, head shape, range of movement and muscle strength, meet with parents for specific handling and positioning sessions and discuss developmental play ideas and liaises with the community therapists if infants have ongoing needs. Physiotherapists also run a developmental playgroup for preterm infants to ensure achievement of developmental milestones in the first year of life.


We are a team of five Radiologists (located at Christchurch Women's Hospital and Christchurch Public Hospital) who specialises in Neonatal and Obstetric Radiology. We assess and diagnose neonatal abnormalities on several different forms of imaging. This most commonly includes neonatal Xrays and ultrasound but may also include CT, MRI and Xray fluoroscopy. We use a state of the art system called PACS which displays the images electronically and allows rapid communication of the results with the Neonatologists. We also present the cases for discussion at a weekly multidisciplinary Xray meeting with the Paediatric surgeons and Neonatologists.


Neonatal registrar: registrars are paediatricians in training (with several years practice as doctors already). They rotate around different areas of the Neonatal service with the CNS (ANP) covering different areas of neonatal, postnatal, delivery suite and retrievals. They are responsible for the day to day medical management of your infants and will discuss any concerns with the Neonatal consultant on duty.

Registered Nurse

Provides a high level of clinical nursing care for neonates within the neonatal service and their families.

Safety and Quality Unit

The Women's and Children's Safety and Quality Unit (SQU) is responsible for overseeing the quality and safety of the services we offer and providing guidance, tools and advice to clinical/operational staff and managers. We are continuously monitoring the quality of care users of our services receive and looking for ways that collectively we can improve this.

Social Work Team

There are three Social Workers in NICU, Nicci, Fleur and Mary-Anne providing 80 hours of support each week. We assist with practical and emotional issues that may arise. Our goal is to work alongside families to help reduce stress in order that parents can attach and experience the most positive start possible with their baby/babies. We can refer onto agencies when support is required following discharge.

NICU Social Worker work with families providing emotional and practical support. We understand the complexity of the issues in the NICU. Our role is to walk beside families through the NICU journey to help reduce stress in the unit and at home.

Speech Language Therapy

There is a Speech Language Therapy service available to all babies admitted to the NICU. We offer a Monday to Friday service, and there are currently three therapists on the unit. Speech Language Therapists assess your baby's sucking and feeding skills, and will create individual feeding plans to help with his or her sucking and feeding. For those babies that are bottle fed, we may recommend specialist teats. We also work in conjunction with the infant feeding specialist, the physiotherapist and the medical team to give advice around feeding positions and routines. We usually see babies born early, those with syndromes, cleft palate or any baby having difficulty feeding. Babies can have feeding difficulties for a variety of reasons, so our involvement may be for a short or long time. For those babies that are on the NICU for a long time, we also give advice about early communication development. Outpatient follow-up is also available once your baby has gone home.

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Page last reviewed: 13 September 2018