These images are the result of a commission to document the neonatal special care unit in the Jessop Wing of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield. The commission was to produce photography to be displayed in the corridor leading to the unit, to demonstrate that despite the medicalised environment, parents are not alone and are still able to actuallyparent their new babies here.
The rooms on the unit are muted and calm. Lights are kept low and curtains are drawn to protect newborn eyes. There is a feeling of being outside of normal time here. Many of the mums on the unit are here for several weeks or months. There is a lot of waiting. Staffing levels are high and technology blinks. People are weary, but they are very well cared for.
Few expect to end up on a ward like this after giving birth, but about 10 percent of babies born in the UK do require extra help. Incredible care is available through the NHS.
It’s more important than ever to show what hospitals do, where our money goes, and the care that is available should we need it. On a neonatal ward, this is shown in a way that only the most disconnected could dismiss. We could all have been here, or know someone here. Many will be here in the future. In a less egalitarian system, some of these families would be starting new lives with medical bills that would bankrupt them.
Thank you to the mums, dads and families who allowed me to photograph them.