The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has today announced a new ambition to reduce the rate of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths in England by 50 per cent by 2030.
The number of brain injuries occurring during or soon after birth will also be targeted as part of a new commitment by the government, in partnership with consultants, midwives and other experts.
The government will work to ensure that best practice is applied consistently across the NHS and that staff can review and learn from every stillbirth and neonatal death.
As part of this ambition, NHS trusts will receive a share of over £4m of government investment to buy brand new digital equipment, such as cardiotocography equipment to monitor a baby’s heartbeat, and provide training and support for health professionals.
Caroline Davey, Chief Executive of Bliss, said: “We welcome today's commitment from the Health Secretary to reduce infant and maternal deaths and brain injuries that occur during or soon after birth.
“While this is a positive step, Bliss' recent report found that neonatal services in England are severely understaffed and overstretched, with 64 per cent of units not having enough nurses. In order to deliver safer care, investment is needed to tackle this critical shortage of staff caring for the sickest babies."
Bliss’ latest report, Bliss baby report 2015: hanging in the balance, revealed neonatal staff are being forced to cope with consistently high demand, with far too few resources.
Bliss has found that neonatal services are struggling to cope with increased demand and that two-thirds of units do not have enough specialist nurses.
The report also reveals that 2,140 more nurses are needed to care for babies in England, and this is largely due to a lack of funding from the Government.
Bliss is therefore writing an open letter to Simon Stevens, NHS England Chief Executive, calling for a fundamental review of funding levels for neonatal care. Please add your signature to help us improve care for babies born premature or sick, giving them the start in life that they need and deserve.