Study Reveals ‘Half Of Stillbirth Cases Could Have Been Avoided’

Legal Experts Call For Better Care For Pregnant Women

19.11.2015

Kate Rawlings, Press Officer | 0114 274 4238

Medical negligence specialists have backed a report issued by experts from Leicester outlining vital measures hospitals must take to reduce the numbers of stillbirths.

Following the investigation into 133 cases of stillbirth which occurred in the UK, in 2013, experts from law firm Irwin Mitchell have called on the Government and NHS to provide better care for mums-to-be and their babies.

The study found national guidelines were not being followed by hospitals in most cases and highlighted "missed opportunities" which could have potentially saved babies' lives.

A team of academics, clinicians and charity representatives, called MBRRACE-UK, looked at pregnancy notes from the cases and reviewed 85 under close scrutiny to see how care for pregnant women could be improved.

The study revealed that two-thirds of women at risk of developing diabetes in pregnancy missed the opportunity to be closely monitored because they were not offered testing.

Additionally, national guidance for screening and monitoring growth of the baby was not followed for two-thirds of the cases and almost half the women had contacted their maternity unit concerned about their baby's movements.

Alarmingly in half of these tragic cases opportunities were missed to save the baby.

Professor Elizabeth Draper, Professor of perinatal and paediatric epidemiology at the University of Leicester, said: "The panel identified a number of areas where improvements of care are required which could lead to an overall reduction in this type of stillbirth.

"However, not all findings were negative. We found examples of excellent bereavement care where midwives had provided long-term support for families in a way that surpassed normal expectations, high-quality interpreter services when these were needed, as well as a high standard of post mortem examinations."

Julianne Moore, an expert medical negligence solicitor said it was vital that NHS Trusts across the country took immediate action to reduce these figures and improve care.


Expert Opinion
”The level of stillbirth in the UK is still unacceptably high and it has remained so for a number of years.

We have worked with a number of families who have sadly suffered a stillbirth, which could have been avoided with appropriate care.

We have seen first-hand how the loss of a much wanted child can cause a devastating impact to a family, which can last a lifetime.

This is yet another report which highlights that improvements are needed. The Government and NHS must act on the recommendations included in this report to improve the quality of care given to pregnant women and their babies and reduce the number of avoidable stillbirths.”
Julianne Moore, Partner