We must keep the momentum going says the RCM on stillbirths fall

on 07 December 2020 NHS Staff Maternity Services Midwifery Covid-19 RCOG

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) says that efforts to keep driving down stillbirth rates must continue, as new figures show a continued fall this year.

Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said:

“This is simply great news and an incredible achievement to keep the momentum going and keep stillbirth rates falling, especially during the pandemic. It is a testament to the dedication and efforts of our maternity staff and their NHS colleagues, and it shows that maternity services are becoming safer and delivering better care. Every loss is a heart-breaking and personal tragedy and the challenge now is to keep pushing the rates down. This means intensifying efforts, really focusing care on those most at risk, and learning when things do go wrong to make improvements so that care is even safer.”

The figures from the Office for National Statistics cover January to September this year and were published today. They show that stillbirth rates fell in each quarter, continuing the significant downward trend in recent years.

Gill Walton added, “The RCM is working hard with other organisations to improve safety and the care of women at risk of stillbirth.  There is also a strong policy drive from the Government to reduce stillbirths and that is paying dividends. This must also be backed up with increased investment in midwives and maternity services, along with a commitment to reverse cuts to public health funding, which is hitting crucial programmes such as stopping smoking services. Many of these support pregnant women to stop smoking and reducing smoking in pregnancy is one of the most effective things we can do to reduce stillbirths. We’ve come a long way and made astonishing progress, but we must keep our foot on the pedal.”


Notes to editors

The ONS statistics can be viewed at https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/livebirths/articles/provisionalbirthsinenglandandwales/2020#stillbirths .

The RCM and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists are working with the charity Tommy’s on a major project to identify women who may be more at risk of a stillbirth and to improve their care. For more information visit https://www.tommys.org/research/research-centres/tommys-national-centre-maternity-improvement.

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance, and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences, and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.