Allied Health Professionals

The NWNODN now hosts a team of Allied Health Professionals and a Clinical Psychologist and aims to integrate the knowledge and skills of this group throughout the work of the network, just as we would hope to see an integrated MDT on each neonatal unit.

You can read more about the team members and the roles of their professions on a neonatal unit by clicking on the tabs below

Their primary roles in the network are as follows:

However, the team are always keen to hear from neonatal teams and from wider services who are keen to improve their offer to neonatal families. Please do get in touch!

The week of 13-17 June 2022 saw ‘NWNODN AHP & Psychology Week’. The week was designed to introduce our network AHP and Psychology team members and to hear from them the benefits that these roles can bring to neonatal care.   Throughout the week, each member of the team talked about the benefits that their particular role can bring to the MDT and how they can support the NW neonatal units with the development of their own AHP team.

Click below  to see recordings of their sessions

Introduction to the Network AHP and Psychology team

Clinical Psychology in Neonatal Care

Role of the Speech and Language Therapist

Physiotherapy in Neonatal Care

Role of the Neonatal Dietitian in Neonatal Care

Occupational Therapy in the Neonatal Unit

Lynette Forsythe is the NWNODN Dietitian.  You can contact Lynette via: (usual working days: Tues and Wed)

Lynette also undertakes a clinical role at Manchester University Hospitals Trust

What do Dietitians do to promote the outcomes of neonatal babies and their families?

Dietitians have a specialist role in the complex nutritional care needs of neonates and specialist knowledge of the potential barriers for managing nutritional interventions. The need for optimum nutritional support is paramount as evidence points to short- and long-term adverse consequences of poor nutrient intake and growth in this population.

Dietitians have specialist knowledge of the complex nutritional problems arising from medical issues due to prematurity such as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, necrotising enterocolitis, chronic liver disease and congenital heart disease. They are specialists in designing nutrition practice protocols and monitoring tools. They enhance clinical effectiveness in nutrition, which reduces complications such as NEC and postnatal growth restriction.

Dietitians assess and understand the indication for use of, and apply current clinical practices for, parenteral and enteral feeding strategies to meet the complex needs of neonates. They have extensive knowledge of the use of breast milk in preterm infants and support establishing and maintenance of lactation and the transition to breastfeeding. They understand the composition and use of breast milk fortifier, specialist preterm and term formula to supplement nutrition as needed.

Dietitians play a key role in supporting MDTs to make clinically effective feeding decisions, taking into account gastrointestinal disorder/surgical intervention. They are integral to embedding UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) neonatal standards, FiCare and the Bliss Baby Charter.

You can hear Lynette talk about the benefits the Dietitian role can bring to neonatal care here


Sarah Tandy is the NWNODN Occupational Therapist

You can contact Sarah via (usual working days: Wed and Thur).   Sarah also undertakes a clinical role at Royal Preston Hospital

What do Occupational Therapists do to promote the outcomes of neonatal babies and their families?

Occupational therapists promote infant neurodevelopment on the neonatal unit by enabling parents and caregivers to provide individualised developmentally supportive care. Adapting the environment ensures we promote the best sensory experience for brain development.

Occupational Therapists support the parent-infant relationship by helping parents understand their infants’ behavioural cues and signs of stress. We work with parents/carers to help infants regulate their neuro-behavioural body systems. This enables them to take part in caregiving activities in a supportive and meaningful way.

Occupational therapists use specialist assessment and early interventions focused on sensory, motor, attention, regulation and play development to ensure infants reach their developmental potential. This supports their participation in co-occupations such as sleeping, eating and early interaction which are crucial for the health and development of infants and parents/carers

You can hear Sarah talk about the benefits an Occupational Therapist can bring to neonatal care here

Pip Ranson is the NWNODN Physiotherapist.  You can contact Pip via:   (usual working days Mon and Tue)

Pip also undertakes a clinical role at MFT – St Mary’s and Wythenshawe Hospitals

What do Physiotherapists do to promote the outcomes of neonatal babies and their families?

Physiotherapists (PT) provide highly-specialised observation, assessment, intervention in movement, gross motor and postural control in the rapidly changing physiology and behavioural stability of neonates. Early identification of motor problems ensures that neonates can receive diagnostic-specific intervention, which shapes the musculoskeletal system and motor organisation to optimise brain development. Neurodevelopmental physiotherapists support families and educate parents to optimise their baby’s brain development during their neonatal stay as well as supporting parent infant relationships.

Respiratory physiotherapy plays a small but important role in the neonatal population where physiotherapists assess the need for intervention and balance that against the physiological cost, energy expenditure and developmental needs of the infant. It is however important to optimise respiratory function to enable growth and development.

You can hear Pip talk about the benefits that the Neonatal Physiotherapist can bring to neonatal care here

Ruth Butterworth is the NWNODN Clinical Psychologist.  You can contact Ruth via   (usual working days Tues and Wed)

What do Clinical Psychologists do to promote the outcomes of neonatal babies and their families?

Clinical psychologists provide evidence-based psychological assessment and interventions for parents, infants and staff on neonatal units. They work as part of the MDT and provide consultation, shared decision making and collaborative care planning with complex cases. They supervise other professionals delivering psychological interventions, such as bereavement nurses or midwives, counsellors and family support workers, as well as coordinating additional specialist support where needed.

Parent, Infant and Family mental health

Admission to a neonatal unit for any reason can be traumatising and have negative psychological consequences for the parents, the neonate, and the parent-baby relationship, with significantly higher rates of parental mental health difficulties when compared to the general perinatal population. Clinical psychologists are well trained in a number of therapeutic models to support parents’ mental health needs and peri-trauma work, alongside promoting secure parent-infant attachment relationships. They can also provide ways of making sense of and overcoming the barriers to FiCare or to collaborative working relationships between parents the staff team. Effective and timely specialist inpatient intervention results in a number of cost benefits, including shorter length of stay and improved psychosocial and neurodevelopmental outcomes for parents and infants.  Clinical psychologists can provide additional follow-up care post discharge to assist in the transition home, assessing risk and ensuring clear pathways on to specialist mental health and social care services as needed.

Staff support and training

Rates of burnout and trauma are high in the neonatal workforce and staff sickness and retention are issues of concern. Clinical psychologists can use their skills to address the psychological distress of the intensive care environment on staff including offering pre-case discussions and debriefs of difficult clinical situations, reflective practice sessions and bespoke teaching and training to the neonatal team.

You can hear Ruth talk about the benefits the Clinical Psychologist role can bring to neonatal care here

Jo Marks is the NWNODN Speech & Language Therapist.  You can contact Jo via (usual working days Tues and Wed)

Jo also undertakes a clinical role at Manchester University Hospitals Trust

What do Speech and Language Therapists do to promote the outcomes of neonatal babies and their families?

Speech and language therapists (SLTs) have a specific role in the early identification, assessment and management of communication and oral feeding/swallowing difficulties in neonates.

SLTs are specialists in providing pre-oral feeding support and assessment of readiness for oral feeding, evaluation of breastfeeding and bottle feeding. SLTs provide individualised feeding recommendations and strategies to help support effective oral feeding.

In addition, SLTs provide training and support to the wider multidisciplinary team in oral feeding practices and are integral in embedding UNICEF BFI neonatal standards, FICare and the Bliss Baby Charter. SLTs have a role in reducing the risk of known prolonged feeding difficulties such as delayed nasogastric tube weaning, oral aversion and future difficulties progressing with weaning onto solids.

SLTs also have expertise in early communication and how to maximise the opportunities for supporting speech, language and communication development through supporting parents’ early interaction with their baby in the unique neonatal unit environment. SLT’s help support families for discharge & promote referrals for ongoing support in both feeding & communication development.

You can hear Jo talk about the benefits the Speech & Language Therapist role can bring to neonatal care here