This morning Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, announced ten key actions and initiatives that NHS England will put into place over the next year to improve safety in maternity and newborn safety. These include a significant £8 million injection into multi-disciplinary training, and the development of a Perinatal Mortality Review Tool.
The Perinatal Mortality Review Tool will create a standardised process for recording outcomes of investigations into every stillbirth and neonatal death in England. This announcement comes after the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ Each Baby Counts report found only half of local review teams had a specific tool or methodology which they used for reviewing and improving practice. This standardised tool will not only be essential for meeting the Government’s ambition to halve still birth and neonatal death by 2030, but will also help to provide answers to families whose baby has died.
The announcement also increases funding for multi-disciplinary training through an £8 million Maternity Safety Training Fund, providing an excellent opportunity for Trusts to bring together all teams involved in maternity and newborn services to make pathways safer and more joined up. With one in eight babies born needing neonatal care in England, it is vital that neonatal professionals are always included in training initiatives from this funding package.
The Bliss baby report: hanging in the balance revealed 72 per cent of neonatal units struggled with one or more aspects of neonatal nurse training and development, and 65 per cent of units do not have enough nurses with a specialist qualification in neonatal care.
Caroline Davey, Chief Executive of Bliss, says "This is a welcome set of actions aimed at improving safety and consistency across the maternity pathway. We are particularly heartened by the announcement that a standardised review tool will be developed to learn lessons from every incidence of stillbirth and neonatal death, and by the significant increase in funding for multidisciplinary training.
"However, it is essential that neonatal teams are involved throughout the implementation of these key actions. Gaps in neonatal staff training are already having a significant impact on services, and it is crucial that neonatal and maternity teams are able to develop strategies together to decrease the number of avoidable admissions to neonatal services".
Other key action points announced today include the development of a new Maternal and Neonatal Health Quality Improvement Programme, which will provide structured support for maternity and neonatal teams to develop new ideas and turn them into plans for measureable improvements to their services, and the launch of the Our Chance public awareness campaign to improve maternity outcomes for mums-to-be; Bliss is delighted to have been involved in supporting this campaign’s development.
Together, the government hopes that the ten separate actions will ensure Trusts have the resources needed to dramatically improve maternity safety across England.
You can read more about the government’s announcement here.
To find out more about the Our Chance campaign, visit ourchance.org.uk/