The National Audit Office (NAO) launched it's report on Maternity Services today which examines whether the Department of Health is achieving value for money from its spending on maternity services, and looks at the performance and management of these services.

In response to this report Sands' Deputy Chief Executive, Jane van Zyl, said:

“The death of a baby is devastating. As highlighted in today’s report, 1 in 133 babies are stillborn or die within seven days of life and it is encouraging that the NAO has given this issue the prominence it deserves.

Sands is working with the Department of Health on an ongoing stillbirth prevention programme, including the development of  a  standardised review process, so that every baby’s death is reviewed at unit level in a robust and thorough way.  Our aim is to ensure that mistakes are not repeated and enable local, regional and national learning, and Sands wants to do everything possible to support the Department of Health and NHS England in this work.

Variations in quality of care and safety between trusts means many pregnant women are faced with a postcode lottery, which is simply unacceptable.  And while we are encouraged by the work that has begun to rectify this, the report’s findings demonstrate there is no time to be lost.

Sands has consistently warned about the impact of inadequate resourcing in maternity units, and today’s report is a stark reminder that improvements are needed.

We look forward to hearing responses from the Department of Health and NHS England, and hope all stakeholders can work together to ensure any improvements are implemented fully and swiftly."