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The University of Southampton
Health Sciences

Pioneering education in neonatal practice celebrates 20 years improving care for preterm babies

Published: 7 September 2012

The University of Southampton is celebrating 20 years since introducing the first educational training programme for Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioners (ANNPs) in the UK.

The programme itself was originally conceived in the 1980s by a multi-professional group of doctors and nurses from the Wessex region who developed the idea for providing an advanced clinical role for experienced neonatal clinical nurses.

A unique collaboration between the medical and nursing professions, the initiative resulted in the first recognised programme in the UK for ANNPs and provides the opportunity for senior clinical neonatal nurses to access theoretical training and preparation for the ANNP role.

A decade after the course began, an evaluation report provided confirmation that ANNPs delivered an effective alternative to the current models of care.

Today ANNPs provide a frontline service and positively impact on the care of preterm babies, inter-professional working and collaboration within neonatal units.

They are an integral part of the neonatal workforce and evidence suggests they are being employed in a variety of national settings.

Furthermore, the National Audit office report states that a number of them are now leading some small neonatal units.

Many alumni return to complete either the MSc in Advanced Clinical Practice, introduced in 2004, or the unique new neonatal prescribing module available to qualified ANNPs from Southampton.

Susan Smith, the current ANNP lead within Health Sciences at the University of Southampton and part of the original development team, comments: "Fundamental to the success of this neonatal programme has been the commitment from key professional teams, the combination of medical, nursing and physiological experience and knowledge means the course is responsive to the needs of the workforce and provides a unique foundation for the on-going development of ANNPs.

"Ultimately though we hope that by providing high quality neonatal education and training we are helping to improve the quality and consistency of neonatal care provision."

Respected neonatal expert and Professor of Neonatology at University College London Neil Marlow comments: "I believe the development of ANNP training by the University of Southampton has been a very important factor in the promotion of quality neonatal care over the past 20 years and contributes significantly to improving outcomes for these vulnerable children."

To mark the 20 year anniversary the University is holding a celebratory neonatal conference on the 20th September. In addition to welcoming ANNPs from across the UK there will also be an international faculty of neonatal speakers.

Notes for editors

For further details on the conference see here:

If you would like to speak to Susan Smith or one of the first graduates from the course, who is now a Neonatal Nurse Consultant, please contact Becky Attwood , Media Relations, University of Southampton, Tel: 023 8059 5457, email:

The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship across a wide range of subjects in engineering, science, social sciences, health and humanities.  

With over 23,000 students, around 5000 staff, and an annual turnover well in excess of £435 million, the University of Southampton is acknowledged as one of the country's top institutions for engineering, computer science and medicine. We combine academic excellence with an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to research, supporting a culture that engages and challenges students and staff in their pursuit of learning.

The University is also home to a number of world-leading research centres including the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, the Optoelectronics Research Centre, the Web Science Trust and Doctoral training Centre, the Centre for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, the Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute and is a partner of the National Oceanography Centre at the Southampton waterfront campus.

For further information contact:

Becky Attwood , Media Relations, University of Southampton, Tel: 023 8059 5457, email: 

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