Urgent, targeted support needed, says RCM on sudden infant deaths report

on 16 July 2020 RCM Midwifery Maternity Services Infant Mortality Safe Sleep Safety Safe high quality care

We urgently need wider and more targeted care and support for parents says the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), responding to a Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel report on the sudden unexpected death of infants (SUDI).

Birte Harlev-Lam, Executive Director for Professional Leadership at the RCM, said: “Poverty, deprivation and inequality are the root causes of many of these tragic infant deaths. This is compounded by a failure, both societal and in the health and care sector, to address those causes. It is crucial that we identify as early as possible women and families that are at risk, and have coordinated and targeted action to support them.”

The Panel’s findings showed that in 38 of the 40 infant deaths they reviewed, co-sleeping was a feature. Drug and alcohol use by parents often accompanied the co-sleeping.

Birte Harlev-Lam added: “We recognise that midwives will be key to implementing the review’s recommendations. However, a wider approach to this is needed, bringing in all the agencies and professionals working with these families, so that they get the right and consistent safe sleep support and advice.  Beyond that our governments have got to tackle the widening inequality that fuels family disruption of the kind outlined in the report.”


To contact the RCM media office call 020 7312 3456 or email [email protected].

Notes to Editors

To read the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel’s full report visit https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/child-safeguarding-practice-review-panel.

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/.