National guidance could prevent stillbirths

By Julie Griffiths on 30 July 2018 Stillbirth Neonatal Death NHS England Maternity Services

A new report reveals how the number of stillbirths fell by a fifth at maternity units where national guidance has been adopted.

The guidance, known as the ‘Saving babies lives care bundle’, has been implemented by 19 maternity units and so far has helped save more than 160 babies’ lives, according to an independent evaluation.

The clinical improvements in the guidance include reducing smoking in pregnancy, better monitoring of babies’ growth and movement in pregnancy, as well as better monitoring in labour.

The ‘Saving babies lives care bundle’ is part of ambitious plans by NHS England to make maternity care safer and more personal.

The best practice guidance is now being introduced across the country and NHS England says it has the potential, if these findings were replicated, to prevent an estimated 600 stillbirths.

NHS England’s national clinical director for maternity and women’s health Matthew Jolly said: ‘These findings show significant progress in the reduction of stillbirth rates. This is thanks to the dedicated maternity staff who have developed and implemented the clinical measures we recommend as national best practice. 

‘We know more can be done to avoid the tragedy of stillbirth and as we develop the 10-year plan for the NHS, we want to build on the progress we’ve made to make maternity services in England among the safest in the world.’ 

The new secretary of state for health and social care Matt Hancock said: ‘This improvement is welcome and testament to the incredible NHS maternity staff who do everything they can to improve care; saving many babies’ lives as a result. 
‘We still have more to do but these results demonstrate really positive progress towards our ambition to halve the rates of stillbirth, neonatal death and maternal death by 2025.’

The Saving babies’ lives project impact and results evaluation (SPiRE) was commissioned by NHS England and delivered by the Tommy’s Centre for Stillbirth Research within the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Manchester.

The study was adopted into the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) portfolio.