With increased recognition that many stillbirths are preventable, we have spent the past year working closely with the Department of Health to establish a stillbirth prevention work programme. Amongst other work, developing public health messages to raise awareness and reduce the risk of stillbirth has been identified as a top priority. With this in mind, last month, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health Dr Daniel Poulter MP called the first working group meeting at the Department of Health in London.
The Minister invited a small group of key experts from relevant Royal Colleges, the Department of Health, the devolved governments and other leading baby charities to the meeting, which was chaired by Professor Richard Parish, Royal Society for Public Health. The group had a lively discussion covering a wide range of potential public health messages in relation to stillbirth and the Sands team was inspired by the level of engagement and commitment of everyone involved.
Based on the consensus in the meeting, we are now in the process of refining key public awareness messages and how to disseminate them and will meet again with the Department of Health to discuss next steps.
The meeting is a very encouraging step as we are convinced that pregnant women must be better informed about risks, and we know that there is still a considerable information gap when it comes to stillbirth awareness. In fact, a survey that we carried out via facebook in January highlighted that 80% of respondents were not aware that 11 babies are stillborn every day in the UK, and over three quarters had not seen or read any information regarding stillbirth risk during their pregnancy. We are passionate that the more work we can do towards raising awareness around stillbirth, the more lives could be saved, and are delighted that the Department of Health is showing such strong commitment to the stillbirth prevention work programme.