Parents of stillborn babies face indignity
Parents whose babies are stillborn or who die shortly after birth are still facing indignity on the NHS, a report has suggested.
Only around half of health trusts surveyed had a quiet room where parents could go and sit away from the sights and sounds of women in labour or healthy newborns.
More than half (52%) of units had no dedicated midwife trained in bereavement - despite the fact 6,500 families every year suffer the loss of a child, said the charity Sands, which compiled the study.
It found 56% of NHS trusts surveyed still used shared graves for babies but only 35% used lockable grave covers.
Hospitals across the country can arrange burials, which usually involve placing more than one baby in a grave.
The ground is not usually put back down fully until the grave is full.
The report, the first of its kind, was based on data from 77 trusts in the UK - just 25% of those who were sent the Sands questionnaire responded.
The charity said good care includes spending extra time with patients, ensuring clear, sensitive and honest communication and using interpreters where necessary.
Trained staff should be on hand to deal with emotional needs while parents whose babies die in the second or third trimester of pregnancy should be offered opportunities to create memories, it said.
While NHS care has improved compared with a few decades ago, today’s report found care is still poorly resourced and organised in 20% of trusts, and is patchy in others.
Around (51%) of units have specific bereavement training for midwives but only 32% run training sessions for doctors.
Nearly half (45%) of units have no dedicated room on the labour ward for mothers whose baby has died.
Gail Johnson, education and practice development adviser at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: “The rates of stillbirth in the UK may mean midwives can have limited experience in caring for bereaved families.
“This is why it is so important that services are developed and commissioned to meet the needs of parents who experience stillbirth or neonatal loss.”