A report commissioned by Julia Cumberlege has been published this week, reviewing the care package received by women, in pregnancy through to delivery and post natal care of mother and baby, and promoting a £3,000 NHS Bespoke birth budget. The report looks to improve the care of losses through still birth, but fails to address the needs of those who lose through miscarriage.

Each birth experience is different, and the report outlines how the NHS in England should work harder to meet the demands of each woman and their interaction with maternity services. The report suggests a personalised, ‘woman centred’ care plan.

This includes addressing the needs of families who have repeatedly experienced loss during pregnancy. Woman who had consistently experienced stillbirth said they wished they had been better informed about the risks, such as reduced fetal movement. There is also a strong focus within the report on how to care for a family when a baby dies. Many of the people who engaged with the research felt were not given enough time to come to terms with their loss before they left the hospital, feeling rushed to make a decision to leave their baby, or what would happen to their baby. The report also recommends services should review the value in prioritising counselling and therapy following traumatic or difficult experiences and highlighted how the levels of compassion and kindness shown by maternity staff varied across the country. Painfully the report also highlights a regular breakdown in communication between hospital and community healthcare professionals who did not know a baby had died.

Earlier this year The Lancet medical journal published “Ending Preventable Stillbirths” highlighting that in the UK alone, half of all stillbirths occur during labour and delivery, usually after nine months and most of these could be prevented with an improved quality of care. Intervention at the critical time around birth would result in a triple return on investment, preventing maternal and newborn deaths as well as stillbirth. The report calls for open and honest multi professional investigations to ensure that where fault can be found, future failings can be avoided. Savings made through improved care will contribute towards the NHS Personal Maternity Care Budgets designed to facilitate choice by giving a woman control of the money used to buy her care.

“Things go wrong too often. We spend £560 million each year on compensating families for negligence during maternity care” says Cumberlege. “Of course it is true that birth is not without risk, but every woman wants – and has a right to – the safest possible birth for herself and her baby. Every woman should also be cared for by services which fit around and respect her, and her baby’s needs and circumstances. Safe care is personalised care.”

This message is echoed by the Mariposa Trust, (which supports people who have been affected by the loss of a child at any stage of pregnancy, at birth or in infancy, whether the loss be recent or historic) though the charity finds it disappointing that the needs of those who lose through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, missed miscarriage or molar pregnancy are simply unaddressed in the report.

Through the Mariposa Trust, people have an opportunity to attend the international ‘Saying Goodbye’ remembrance services; over 20 planned for 2016. Additionally the charity works with Health Professionals and Organisations to improve the care and support of people pre, during and post baby loss. The Trust is led by the founders Zoe and Andy Clark-Coates, who are Trustee/Directors, with the charity website receiving around 650,000 hits per month, and support offered by The Mariposa Trust (Saying Goodbye) reaching in excess of 50,000 people per week. For more information on the work of the Mariposa Trust visit www.sayinggoodbye.org.

Editor’s notes: For interview requests or further information please email or contact Andy Clark-Coates at directors@sayinggoodbye.org.