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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS

Home > Our services > Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU)

Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU)

General introduction

The Special Care Baby Units (SCBU) at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven care for babies born early, babies with breathing difficulties or feeding problems and babies with infection or abnormalities.

Whatever the problem, parents, families and friends can be assured that the staff will have the experience to deal with it and fully explain what is happening.

What we do

The units provide high dependency care for babies who weigh less than 1kg (2lb 3oz) and who need help with their breathing by continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or intravenous feeding, but who do not fulfil any of the requirements for Intensive Care.

They also provides special care for babies who may need to have their breathing and heart rate monitored. If they need help feeding they may be fed through a tube, or be supplied with extra oxygen or treated with ultra violet light for jaundice. Special care babies also include babies who are convalescing from more specialist treatment before they are able to be discharged, and while feeding in particular is established.

The units try to deliver care in a way that minimises the physical and psychological impact of neonatal care on the baby and family, and be responsive to the medical and psychosocial needs of babies and their families. Theytherefore offer pain management, breastfeeding support, kangaroo care, discussions with consultants; leaflets and information explaining common procedures and alternative treatments where possible.

The staff try to ensure that mothers and fathers are included at the centre of the care process, and support them throughout the care pathway.

No surgery is undertaken in the hospital on babies, therefore all have to be transferred out, usually to Newcastle.

The SCBU initiates mechanical ventilation and stabilisation, but does not ventilate long term.  Instead the Northern Neonatal Network will find a ventilator for the baby usually in the Northern Region and organise the baby to be transferred out by a neonatal transfer team.

Key clinical staff

  • Paediatric Consultants - Dr G Jones; Dr P Whitehead; Dr Sikkander; Dr O Kehinde; Dr K Gad; Dr Banda & Dr K Berankova
  • Lead Nurse – Lesley Brown & Stephanie Moorhead (Cumberland Infirmary)


Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle

West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven

Contact details

Parents are welcome to ring anytime, day or night to enquire about their baby.  We do not give information about babies on SCBU to anyone other than parents.

Direct telephone lines

Carlisle - 01228 814271 

Whitehaven - 01946 693181

You are welcome to email us with enquiries, comments or suggestions -