'Little about this environment helps relieve the stress staff and parents are under'

A few weeks ago my sister in law had a baby girl. After four nephews I am pleased as punch that our family now has its first niece and an excuse to buy lots of tiny pink and flowery things. Obviously nephews are great too, but I am not allowed to buy them dresses.

Sadly Rosie was born with a syndrome that gives her problems with her sight and breathing and a cleft palate which means she cannot suck. So a recent visit up north meant we had to go to hospital to see her.

I won't name the trust but it was a sobering experience. The neo-natal unit is deep in the bowels of the building, with no windows or natural light. I was tempted to lay a trail so we could find our way out again, so poor was the signage and anonymous the corridors.

The main lifts have been broken for a year so everyone has to use a service lift. As this is a women's and children's unit most people are pregnant or in a pushchair, and if you can't use the stairs getting anywhere takes hours.

As nice as the staff were, especially given that they are working without natural sunlight for eight hours a day, little about the environment helps relieve the stress that they and parents are under.

To make matters worse Rosie's mum and dad feel it is difficult to get any straight answers about the implications of the syndrome or when she will be able to go home. Different professionals give different advice or opinions and there are few straight answers.

Rosie is a gorgeous little girl and is as lively and alert as any four-week old has the right to be. It is her poor parents who are really going through the mill. Hopefully by the time you read this things will be clearer for Rosie but it is a disturbing set of circumstances and, I fear, far from unusual.

Perhaps things are kept this way because babies cannot complain.