A new report published today has found that among babies who were stillborn during labour, or who died shortly after birth, in eight out of ten cases improvements in care were identified which could have saved the baby’s life. Researchers also found that problems with adequate staffing and resourcing affected the safety of care in at least one in four of these deaths.
The report Learning from death: when babies die as a result of something that happened during labour from MBRRACE-UK states that while the death of a baby during labour and birth at the end of a pregnancy is very rare, many of these deaths are potentially avoidable. The new report also reveals:
- While the majority of babies admitted to neonatal care received good care, there was evidence of poor record keeping and the lack of availability of senior staff.
- There are inconsistencies in the bereavement care received by mothers, which is particularly acute when a baby has died in the neonatal unit.
- Nine out of ten reviews after the death of a baby did not consider all factors which may have contributed to the death
- Only one in ten reviews of babies who died shortly after birth included input from a neonatologist.
Caroline Lee-Davey, Chief Executive of Bliss, said "The Learning from death report provides a sobering insight into how much more needs to be done in order to achieve the Government’s National Ambition to halve the rate of stillbirths and neonatal deaths.
"We are deeply concerned that so many potentially avoidable deaths are linked to failures of care driven by under-resourcing and under-staffing. It is also of concern that investigations into neonatal deaths so rarely include a neonatologist. Bliss’ own Baby Reports have shown repeatedly that there are insufficient nursing and medical staff to meet standards of safety and quality across neonatal services. This report must be a wake-up call for the Government to invest urgently into maternity and neonatal services to ensure no more families have to live with a lifetime of heartache from an avoidable tragedy.”
Bliss’ baby reports for England, Wales and Scotland, highlight the issues around staffing shortages and other problems facing neonatal care units and the impact these have on families and staff.