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National role for midwife who supports bereaved parents

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A Midlands specialist midwife and a charity founder have been asked by the government to lead a national review which could change the law for bereaved families.

The Pregnancy Loss Review will be jointly led by Sam Collinge, a specialist midwife and maternity bereavement service manager at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust.

“I am thrilled that Sam has been asked to lead this national review”

Alison Talbot

She will be joined in the role by Zoe Clark-Coates, who after her own experiences set up the Mariposa Trust, which supports around 50,000 people a week through baby loss via social media, befrienders and therapy, and also organises national “saying goodbye” services in cathedrals around the country.

Ms Collinge, who has been at her current trust for 18 years, is also a trustee of the stillbirth bereavement charity Abigail’s Footsteps and advises the All Party Parliamentary Group on Baby Loss.

She was awarded the National Maternity Support Foundation award for best practice in bereavement care at the 2015 Royal College of Midwives annual awards for her “forever photos”. The initiative aims to improve the sensitive photography offered to parents following late pregnancy loss and neonatal death.

In addition, the trust’s maternity team as a whole named the best in the country by the RCM at its 2018 awards, held this month.

Mariposa Trust/Saying Goodbye

Zoe Clark-Coates

Zoe Clark-Coates

Together, Ms Collinge and Ms Clark-Coates will shape plans that will mean parents who lose a pregnancy before 24 weeks will be able to choose to register their baby’s death.

They will also look at how services can be improved for parents who experience a miscarriage and other causes of a baby loss.

Currently, parents whose babies are stillborn after 24 weeks gestation can register the baby’s name and receive a certificate of registration of stillbirth.

However, when a pregnancy ends before 24 weeks gestation there is no formal process for parents to legally register the loss.

The announcement of the review was tweeted on Friday by health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt. He said: “Being able to register a baby’s death after miscarriage/stillbirth before 24 weeks could bring comfort in the face of extraordinary grief.”

He added that he was “delighted” Ms Collinge and Ms Clark-Coates would now “lead review into how we change this, while also improving wider package of support across NHS”.

Alison Talbot, head of midwifery at University Hospitals Coventry, said: “I am thrilled that Sam has been asked to lead this national review.

“She provides outstanding care to women and their families during the most devastating time and for her to be chosen to do this is testament to her expertise and experience,” she added.

Meanwhile, Mr Hunt also announced that an extra 3,000 midwives would be trained over the next four years and a voluntary register set up for support staff, under a range of maternity care measures trailed over the weekend.

The moves were outlined over weekend, ahead of a speech by Mr Hunt at an event today to mark two years since the launch of the Maternity Transformation Programme.

The NHS England strategy was launched to take forward the recommendations set out in the Better Births report on the findings of the national maternity review, which was published in February 2016.

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