In December last year, three families had to travel to Åbo, Finland, because there was no room for them in the neonatal unit of Uppsala University Hospital, the head of the unit told The Local at the time.
The emergency solution was repeated last weekend when another two patients were flown to Åbo, Swedish radio reports. One of the mums is understood to have given birth in Finland, while the other gave birth in Sweden and was then taken to the hospital in Åbo together with her new baby.
“The situation is strained,” Erik Normann, head of the neonatal unit at Uppsala University Hospital, told Swedish radio about a lack of spaces at the unit due to a staff shortage during the summer.
The two hospitals had already agreed to allow Uppsala to fly patients to Åbo if needed.
“We'll have to see if we've got some kind of strained balance or if it could get better or worse. We don't know,” he said. “It's possible we can buy additional places in Åbo or elsewhere abroad.”
A lack of space in the specialist neonatal units (those designed to take care of premature children) is a problem according to Normann, with a limited number of spots available across Sweden.
“It's families with an expectation or suspicion that babies will need special care, we always want those families to give birth at a university hospital, so the kids can be taken care of if sick. We have a limited number of those kinds of spaces in Sweden, and if it's full we're forced to find another solution – we asked Finland for help,” Normann told The Local back in December.
Swedish natal care has been in focus in recent years due to to reports of a lack of beds for expectant mothers.
Last year a baby died when a heavily pregnant woman was turned away from an overcrowded hospital in the south of the country. And in a high-profile case a woman was forced to give birth in her car earlier this year less than a month after a maternity ward shut down in Sollefteå.