A government minister has agreed that improvements are needed in services for bereaved parents after stillbirths or the loss of a very young baby, after MP Antoinette Sandbach, whose son died at five days old, investigated what was on offer across the country.
Neonatal care minister Ben Gummer said he was working to ensure there was consistent support across the UK after Mrs Sandbach, who represents a Cheshire constituency, reported that care was patchy and left some parents without help.
He said: “The problem is a smaller one than it was some years ago but it’s still not good enough. What we need to do is make sure we have a really joined-up pathway in all hospitals so we provide consistent support.”
In 2013, one in every 216 births in the UK was a stillbirth, while one in every 370 babies died within the first four weeks of life, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Mrs Sandbach’s son Sam died in 2009 from sudden infant death syndrome and no bereavement counselling was available, though she was able to seek help from a charity. She said: “The best hospital trusts have a clear pathway to support and the Department of Health needs to use the resources it has committed to ensure that is available across the NHS.”
Stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands recommends that each hospital should have a dedicated midwife specifically trained in bereavement care, who ensures the entire team is trained. They also recommend special facilities and the provision of aftercare.
Sian Thompson, Solicitor
Sian Thompson, solicitor with Medical Accident Group, said: “Parents struggling to cope with such a tragedy should not have to struggle further to find support and help. Often hospital staff are incredibly kind and compassionate, but parents then go home and find they must cope on their own, which is often extremely difficult.”
If you have had to cope with the tragedy of a stillbirth or the loss of a baby, Medical Accident Group can help. Our experienced and sympathetic team, whose knowledge of clinical negligence and personal injury law is extensive, can support you through the process of making a claim and seeking justice. We can also advise on a wide range of issues from brain injury or birth injury to surgical and medical errors and accidents at work. Call us free on 0800 050 1668.