'NETS' is the statewide emergency service for medical
retrieval of critically ill newborns, infants and children in New South
Wales (NSW), Australia. NETS provides advice to hospitals requesting
transport of a patient too sick for care to continue in that hospital.
The philosophy of the organisation is summarised by NETS' 'tagline';
'moving intensive care for kids'. NETS brings clinicians
together by conference call to discuss acute problems and plan their
NETS is an acronym previously signifying the "Newborn
Emergency Transport Service". However, since 1995,
NETS' responsibilities increased to include the emergency medical
retrieval of infants beyond the neonatal period and also older children.
Therefore it is now known as the 'Newborn &
pædiatric Emergency Transport
NETS is contacted when a baby or child needs (or is at risk of needing)
intensive care and this form of treatment is not available at the
hospital in which they are being treated.
Only three hospitals in the state of NSW are able to treat the sickest
children (two Children's Hospitals in Sydney and the John Hunter
Children's Hospital in Newcastle).
Another seven provide medical intensive care for newborn babies. All of
these hospitals are in major metropolitan areas. Some referring hospitals
are closer to interstate teaching hospitals and NETS coordinates the link
with services in those hospitals.
Rather than rushing the child from one hospital to another, a specialist
team is sent out by ambulance, helicopter or aircraft to treat, stabilise
and then carefully move the child. This team is called a "Retrieval
Team". A NETS Retrieval Team comprises a specialist doctor and specialist
nurse. NETS has a staff of doctors, nurses and drivers (plus support
The major impact of NETS extends beyond patient transport; in that it
provides a point of clinical triage for patients too sick for normal
ambulance transfer between hospitals. It connects clinicians in referring
and referral(destination) hospitals in a telephone conference to discuss
the best treatment and appropriateness of transfer or retrieval.
This includes obstetric cases when maternal transfer may or may not be
still possible and a neonatal retrieval may be needed. Often the process
succeeds in achieving fetal transfer appropriately; even when neonatal
transport has been deemed inevitable.
It also acts as a clinical coordination point for critically ill or
injured infants and children. Hence the acronym 'NETS' might just as
appropriately signify the 'Networked Emergency Triage Service'!
NETS works with a number of materno-fetal specialists, neonatologists,
pædiatric intensivists, emergency medicine specialists, surgeons and
other specialists to provide referring doctors with rapid access to the
advice of senior clinicians who are regularly involved in such transfer
From an administrative point of view, NETS is managed by the Sydney
Children's Hospitals Network.