There have been significant improvements in the way women are cared for in the wake of a miscarriage, according to a survey by a leading online network.
This included increases in the number of women rating their care from NHS midwives and hospital nurses as either “excellent or very good” in terms of empathy and compassion.
“It’s very heartening to see women’s concerns being taken seriously”
However, it also found follow-up care remained patchy, and women sent home to miscarry reported a lack of information and pain relief.
Overall, the new Mumsnet Miscarriage Survey of nearly 700 women who have miscarried since January 2014 has revealed “big improvements” in the care given to miscarrying women in hospitals.
Building on surveys carried out in 2011 and 2014, the data now shows “steady progress” in many areas of hospital care since the launch of the Mumsnet Better Miscarriage Care campaign in 2011.
For example, 28% of those who had a scan to confirm that their pregnancy was no longer viable waited less than four hours for it, compared with 23% in both 2014 and 2011.
In addition, 44% of those who miscarried in hospital reported that the information provided about what would happen to the remains of the foetus was “comprehensive and compassionate”, compared with 33% in 2014 and just 15% in 2011.
“Greater emphasis now needs to be placed on offering follow-up care and counselling”
Asked to rate staff empathy and compassion, hospital midwives were rated “excellent” or “very good” by 73%, compared to 70% in 2014 and 59% in 2011.
Meanwhile, hospital nurses were rated “excellent” or “very good” by 71% – compared with 65% in 2014 and 59% in 2011 – and consultants were rated “excellent” or “very good” by 59%, compared to 56% in 2014 and 52% in 2011.
NHS care overall was rated excellent or good by 63%, up from 53% in 2014, according to the survey.
It found that 79% of those surveyed had access to an Early Pregnancy Unit – the treatment pathway recommended for women who miscarry by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
However, the survey revealed a patchy picture of care for those sent home to miscarry – known as “expectant management”.
Just 17% of those who miscarried at home said they were given adequate pain relief and 74% were either not given any information about what to expect or were given inadequate information.
And, despite recommendations to the contrary, most women who miscarry continue to be treated alongside women with healthy ongoing pregnancies – a cause of considerable distress at a time of great sadness, noted Mumsnet.
For example, 63% of all survey respondents sat with or walked past women with ongoing healthy pregnancies after having a scan to confirm that they had miscarried.
The survey also found that 73% of those who needed surgical treatment after miscarriage had to wait two or more days for it, compared to 66% in 2014 and 61% in 2011.
‘Big improvements’ in care for women who miscarry
In addition, 47% of all survey respondents think they would have benefited from follow-up medical care, and 52% would have benefited from counselling, but very few were offered either.
Mumsnet chief executive Justine Roberts said: “These results show evidence of real improvements in hospital care for miscarrying women; no small achievement in a time of financial restraint in the NHS.
“It’s very heartening to see women’s concerns over standards of care being taken seriously,” she said.
She added: “Greater emphasis now needs to be placed on fully preparing women who are going to miscarry at home, and on proactively offering follow-up care and counselling.”
Mumsnet surveyed 692 women who had experienced pregnancy loss since January 2014. The survey was conducted between 21 October and 14 November 2016.