About NETS

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'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 solution.

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 Service'.

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 staff).

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 decisions.

From an administrative point of view, NETS is managed by the Sydney Children's Hospitals Network.