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Work to increase awareness of baby loss issues in the UK continues

9-15 October 2018 is Baby Loss Awareness Week when over 60 charities will be raising awareness of the issues surrounding pregnancy and baby loss in the UK.

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Despina is an experienced medical negligence solicitor who has specialised in this field since qualifying in 2002.
The week will culminate with the global “Wave of Light” on 15 October which is also recognised as International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
 
Pregnancy and baby loss is often a taboo subject and charities continue to work tirelessly to try to raise awareness about the issues surrounding baby loss in the UK.
 
Two years ago today, MPs took part in a general debate on baby loss in the House of Commons.
A number of initiatives and campaigns have arisen over the years to deal with the issues surrounding baby loss and to improve maternity services including MMBRACE, Saving Babies’ Lives, Each Baby Counts.
 
MMBRACE-UK stands for “Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries across the UK”. They released their Perinatal Morality Surveillance Report for Births in 2016 in June 2018 which showed that whilst the overall perinatal mortality rate is essentially unchanged since last year, compared with 2013 when it started reporting, the rate has decreased overall. However, there is still room for improvement as the UK’s average rate of stillbirths and neonatal deaths is still higher than in many other, similar European countries.   
 
The Saving Babies Lives Care Bundle is national guidance which was implemented in a number of maternity units. An evaluation of the implementation of the Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle was carried out which showed that stillbirths fell by a fifth at the maternity units where the national guidance had been implemented. The best practice guidance is now being introduced across the country.
 
Each Baby Counts was launched in late 2014 and is the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ (RCOG) national quality improvement project with an aim to halve the number of babies who die (either through stillbirth or in the neonatal period) or are left severely disabled as a result of preventable incidents occurring during labour in term pregnancies (after 37 weeks) by 2020. The RCOG published a report analysing the data related to all stillbirths, neonatal deaths and brain injuries occurring during term labour in 2015. The 1,136 babies born in 2015 which fulfilled the eligibility criteria for Each Baby Counts were reported. Of those 1,136 babies, 126 were intrapartum stillbirths, 156 babies were born alive following labour but died within the first 7 days after birth, and 854 babies had severe brain injury. The reviewers concluded that 76% of these babies might have had a different outcome with different care. In November 2018, Each Baby Counts will be holding a joint conference with the National Maternity and Perinatal Audit at the RCOG to present the findings of both programmes. The Each Baby Counts findings will feature outcomes and lessons that can be learned from the care of Each Baby Counts babies born in 2016, as well as updated information relating to the quality of local reviews into the care of these babies.
 
I am a clinical negligence solicitor who, together with my colleagues in the medical negligence department of Leigh Day, acts for parents who have lost their babies through stillbirth, neonatal death and for babies who have been severely brain damaged; babies who like those 76% cases identified in the Each Baby Counts 2015 report, could have had a different outcome with different care.  The emotional and financial consequences of these avoidable harms cannot be underestimated. You only have to read the stories from affected families collated by the Each Baby Counts project to appreciate the devastating impact of these events.

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