Over recent years Sands’ achievements have made a real, positive difference to many thousands of people who have been devastated by the death of a baby.
In many ways stillbirth and neonatal death have been hidden from public view. The devastation and impact of bereavement is known to all those affected, but not necessarily acknowledged and understood more widely.
Sands has led the way in highlighting how important this issue is, and in November 2015 the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, announced a government ambition to halve the number of stillbirths and neonatal deaths, brain injuries and maternal deaths by 2030 – and reduce them by 20% by 2020. This commitment has put stillbirth and neonatal death firmly on the national policy agenda.
Improving Care for Parents
Sands is unique in not only working to reduce the number of babies dying, but also in holding bereaved parents and families at the heart of our work. This means ensuring that the right support is there for parents and families when they need it, and that the bereavement care they receive is of an excellent standard.
Our improving bereavement care training has gone from strength to strength, reaching professionals from a variety of backgrounds not just midwives. Between April 2015 and March 2016 2,300 Healthcare Professionals – not only Midwives but Doctors, Sonographers, Counsellors and more – improved their bereavement care skills by taking Sands Training.
In 2016 we launched the 4th Edition of our indispensable publication Pregnancy Loss and the Death of a Baby: Guidelines for Professionals. This essential benchmark for good practice will enable all health professionals to provide the best possible care.
There is no doubt that our local groups remain our backbone. Their work throughout 2016 has enabled us to provide high quality, localised bereavement support to thousands of families, and also to maintain good links with maternity services across the country. In addition our support literature, our helpline and forum provide vital support nationally.
Reducing baby death
Underpinning all our work is our vision of creating a world where fewer babies die. Sands has been very active in recent years. Since our Saving Babies Lives report in 2009, we’ve been calling for a national focus to reduce perinatal mortality rates. We’re delighted that our determination has led to the British Government’s commitment to halve the number of stillbirths and neonatal deaths, brain injuries and maternal deaths by 2030 – and reduce them by 20% by 2020.
We’ve collaborated closely on a number of public reports and NHS initiatives to reduce baby deaths, not least the MBRRACE-report (Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries across the UK), a national collaboration which puts the voice of families at the heart of the national programme to understand where and why babies die in the UK. Sands, together with Professor Gordon Smith, asked that MBRRACE-UK’s first confidential enquiry look at the causes of death for babies who die at the end of a full-term pregnancy. The confidential enquiry found that, tragically, 60 per cent of at term stillbirths might have been prevented with improvements in quality of care. These significant findings will influence how maternity services are developed in future, and will save babies’ lives.
Without the vital support of our supporters, fundraisers and volunteers, Sands would not have been able to achieve all we have over recent years. The impact we have had on reducing baby death, supporting bereaved parents and improving bereavement care is thanks to them.
If you’d like to be part of our work, visit the Get Involved section of our website.