Baby Lifeline Responds to Secretary of State for Health’s New Ambitious Measures to Improve Maternity Safety
We welcome today’s announcement of ambitious measures to halve the rate of stillbirths and maternal and neonatal deaths, as well as brain injury, by 2025. Over 80% of women who have stillbirths have no known risk factors; therefore, rigorous investigations into stillbirths are vital to improve stillbirth rates in the UK. What is also paramount to the reduction of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths and brain injuries, is the investment in training to ensure that this research is filtering down to the frontline in maternity care.
£8.2 million was put into maternity safety training by the government last year, but prior to this the funding has been very limited. £8.2 million is less than the cost of one successful cerebral palsy clinical negligence claim. In the last financial year, maternity clinical negligence claims made up 50% of the total cost of clinical negligence litigation across all services in the NHS, totalling £1.9 billion over a 12-month period.
From that £8.2 million, Baby Lifeline became a main provider and at the forefront of multi-professional training across the UK. Baby Lifeline’s training focuses on repeated and reported areas of negligence and recommendations to improve practice in order to provide a response and solution. Regular investment needs to be made for training in order to see tangible differences in stillbirth, neonatal and maternal death rates and brain injuries.
MBRRACE’s report published today states key recommendations and new initiatives to reduce intrapartum deaths. It was reported that 4 out of 5 full-term baby deaths in the UK that they investigated could have been avoided with better care and staffing in maternity units.
Baby Lifeline is already promoting a lot of these recommendations and new initiatives through its training; for example, multi-professional training in areas like fetal monitoring, situational awareness and other human factors, and standardising guidance when serious problems arise in home births. We are also developing a programme to respond to the need for better reporting on serious incidences and implementing change to learn from them. The challenge has been acquiring consistent funding to support this highly-evaluated, expert-led, and pertinent training.
Baby Lifeline has been campaigning for improvements, including political lobbying; we had a constructive meeting with Minister for Health, Philip Dunne, ahead of a parliamentary debate on baby loss last month. You can read the report presented to Philip Dunne here.