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Charities call to improve bereavement care

9 October, 2017

Charities call to improve bereavement care

More than 40 charities working to prevent baby deaths and pregnancy loss are calling for an end to the postcode lottery in bereavement care for parents.

The care offered to bereaved parents in hospital is inconsistent and can depend on where parents live, at what stage of pregnancy or birth the loss occurs, and whether individual healthcare professionals know how to respond.

The charities, including Sands and Bliss, are calling for a member of staff to be appointed to lead on bereavement care in every hospital department where pregnancy loss and baby death occurs. 

They want for all health and social care professionals to receive the highest standard of bereavement care training, and for bereavement rooms to be available and accessible in all hospitals.

Their aim is for all UK hospitals to be required to offer excellent bereavement care to parents.

Currently, fewer than half (46%) of maternity units in the UK provide mandatory bereavement care training, while one in three health trusts and boards have no dedicated bereavement rooms in each maternity unit they cover. 

In neonatal units, 41% of services have no access to a trained mental health worker.

Sands chief executive Dr Clea Harmer said: ‘It is long overdue that the NHS makes the provision of excellent bereavement care mandatory across the UK. Despite claims that it is a priority, there is still a shortage of dedicated bereavement rooms and too few healthcare professionals are getting the essential training they need to sensitively support grieving parents.’

The call coincides with the start of Baby Loss Awareness Week (9-15 October), which helps raise awareness of how pregnancy and baby loss affects thousands of families each year across the UK. 

The week culminates in a global 'Wave of Light' at 7pm on 15 October when candles will be lit across the world to remember all those babies who have died too soon. 

Landmark buildings, including Birmingham Town Hall, Colchester Castle and Coventry Cathedral will be lit up pink and blue – the colours of Baby Loss Awareness Week.

Access further information on Baby Loss Awareness Week 2017 here

Access the RCM's new course on i-learn, 'Delivering unexpected news in pregnancy', here.

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