As a member of the Baby Loss Awareness Alliance, iHV supports the report published today by the Sands and Tommy’s Joint Policy Unit which makes clear that too many families continue to suffer the heartbreak of losing a baby.

The Saving Babies’ Lives Progress Report pulls together data from different sources for the first time to give everyone a shared understanding of the burden of pregnancy and baby loss across the UK. At the heart of the Saving Babies’ Lives report are the voices of bereaved parents and other family members.

Overall, the report paints a concerning picture with progress stalling and a risk of going backwards.

In England, the Government’s target to halve the number of stillbirths and neonatal deaths by 2025 compared to 2010 levels is not on track, and there is no current target or ambition for reducing baby deaths in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

The report also highlights that despite Government commitments to act on the findings of recent reviews of maternity services, this still hasn’t led to the fundamental change needed to save more babies’ lives.

The iHV joins with others in calling for pregnancy loss and baby death to be high on the political agendas of all parties and to be treated as the urgent priorities that they are.

iHV welcomes the call from the One Voice Partnership to a county council to rethink its plan to cut £2.09 million per year from its public health budget.

In a letter to Hampshire County Council (HCC), the One Voice Partnership (which includes the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), Sands, and the National Childbirth Trust (NCT)) has called on HCC to re-examine as a matter of urgency the impact that the proposed budget cuts will have on women before, during and after pregnancy, and on their babies. Not only would the proposal widen inequalities yet further, but it could open the door to preventable harm to women and their babies.

The One Voice Partnership has called the HCC proposal a canary in the mine, with local government budgets across the country under significant pressure.

One Voice is also reminding all local councils of their statutory safeguarding responsibilities and the impact of any budget cuts on the wider health and social care system, including maternity services.

Furthermore, One Voice say that the introduction of non-face-to-face methods for delivering the Healthy Child Programme are currently untested and there is not enough evidence on their effectiveness as an alternative method of providing support and identifying risk and vulnerability.

The quality of care that bereaved families receive when their baby dies can have long-lasting effects. Good seamless care between services can help support parents through this time; conversely poor care can make the situation much harder for families.

iHV was proud to work alongside key partner charities and professional bodies on this project, which has been supported by the Department of Health and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Baby Loss, and led by SANDS. Antoinette Sandbach MP highlighted the outcome of evaluation of an extended two phase pilot at Prime Minister’s Questions and, in response, Theresa May has urged all Trusts to adopt the pathway work into practice.

For more information:

There are pathways covering 5 areas of loss to underpin high quality, individualised and sensitive care for:

  • Miscarriage
  • Termination of Pregnancy for Foetal Anomaly
  • Stillbirth
  • Neonatal Death
  • Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy – up to 12 months

Actions for health visitors:

  1. Review the pathways and consider the health visiting contribution to supporting families with pregnancy or baby loss
  2. Share the pathways with your Professional Lead and ask how your organisation will be taking the pathways forward in practice – direct them to:
  3. Connect with your Community Midwives and ensure they are aware of the pathways too
  4. Find out more about which local maternity hospitals are adopters of the pathway via your local Maternity Voices or Maternity Transformation meetings in your region

The NBC pathway has been shown to help strengthen support to the bereaved families in pilot areas. There is now a rallying call and all health visiting services, like their maternity services partners, must be aware of and adopt these standards for the benefit of families in their care.

The Institute is pleased to be one of the key partners in the project group working to deliver a National Bereavement Care Pathway (NBCP) for England, with the support of Department of Health and All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Baby Loss.

This invaluable project, led by SANDS, includes partners from professional bodies, charities, parents and families with the aim of ensuring that all bereaved parents are offered equal, high quality, individualised, safe and sensitive care following pregnancy and baby loss (up to 1 year of age).

Pilot sites for the roll-out of the pathway and guidance materials were launched on 9 October (to coincide with Baby Loss Awareness Week) and will be independently evaluated, with the second wave of the pilot planned for April 2018.

We are really keen to support the project group with identification of community health providers (which employ health visitors) that are willing to be included in the second pilot phase – to ensure that the pathway offers clear, consistent guidance to health visitors to enable them to work confidently alongside parents, providing compassionate and parent-centred care to those affected through use of the pathway.

If you would like to know more about becoming a pilot site please contact Project Lead Marc Harder ([email protected]).

Look out for further news about the NBCP or tweets with hashtag #nbcp.