I cannot begin to imagine the stress and anxieties this can cause. I share your concern about the pressures placed on families of premature babies at a very stressful time and understand how much positive impact can come from the presence of the parents when they are involved in providing the hands-on care for the babies.
As you know, the Government is conducting a review of the issue and I hope they will extend the statutory leave and pay for parents of premature and sick babies. I absolutely support measures to help families spend more time with a new baby. Indeed, in 2017, I stood for election on a manifesto that pledged to extend maternity pay to 12 months, rather than the current 39 weeks that organisations such as Bliss state is not long enough for parents of babies born very early or sick. I appreciate that parents of babies born premature or sick, in particular, will want to be with their children as much as possible at what is an incredibly difficult and stressful time. I therefore hope that the Government will listen carefully and respond to the concerns that have been raised about the need for extended leave for parents when it brings forward the conclusions of its review.
As requested, I have written to the minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility Kelly Tolhurst MP and I will provide an update as soon as I have received a response. In the meantime, I can assure you that I will continue to monitor this issue closely and to keep in mind the very important concerns that have been raised with me.