The Birth Trauma Association (BTA), a charity that offers support to women with postnatal PTSD, welcomes two new reports on the deaths of newborn babies: Each Baby Counts, from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), and the new report on stillbirth and neonatal death rates from MBRRACE-UK.
Each Baby Counts, published 21 June, found that three-quarters of the babies who die or are brain damaged during childbirth in the UK might have been saved by better medical care, such as monitoring the baby’s heartbeat during labour.
The MBRRACE report, published 22 June, found that between 2013 and 2015, the stillbirth rate fell from 4.2 to 3.87 per 1,000 births. It adds: “Nevertheless, despite this reduction UK stillbirth rates still remain high compared to many similar European countries and there remains significant variation across the UK that is not solely explained by some of the important factors that influence the rate of death such as poverty, mother’s age, multiple birth and ethnicity.”
The BTA’s research officer, Maureen Treadwell, said: “Cases of stillbirth, neonatal death and brain damage at birth have a devastating impact on families and enormous costs for the NHS and society at large. Each Baby Counts provides evidence that much more can be done to prevent babies dying at birth."
She added: “A major difficulty, however, is that nationally-collected data mortality statistics do not tell us what needs to change or whether areas with high death rates are delivering poor care or whether there are other factors. If care is to be improved, we need to collect the data in a way in a way that enables us to better understand causality and make changes that reduce the incidence of mortality and morbidity in both mothers and babies.
“Data collection is important but time-consuming for staff and takes them away from delivering personalised care. The NHS demands vast amounts of data collection, much of which is neither accurate, necessary nor useful. As a consequence data is not as accurate as it should be. We need to collect less data but do it better.
“Both Each Baby Counts and MBRRACE have world-class research teams. It is important that the NHS listens to their messages, but above all gives them the tools and data that enable them to fulfil their potential.”