Good news in Northern Ireland, where the new Northern Ireland Maternal and Infant Loss (NIMI) steering group is taking a strategic national approach to reducing the number of stillbirths and neonatal deaths. The NI group joins the longer established Scottish Stillbirth Working Group, the Welsh Initiative for Stillbirth Reduction and the five Department of Health/Sands Task and Finish Groups for England in their efforts to drive down the numbers of babies dying across the countries of the UK. 

Chaired by Northern Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, the Northern Ireland group will look at all infant deaths in Northern Ireland, from miscarriage to 1 year. This gives it a wider remit than the other national groups, though preventable stillbirth has been identified as an area of special interest to the group. Sands NI together with the premature baby charity TinyLife are the user representatives who are joining the high-profile commissioners, healthcare professionals and public health specialists involved in this initiative.

The NIMI steering group will be guided by nationally collected data to steer coordinated improvements in care across Northern Ireland. And Sands’ involvement will ensure that the voice of the bereaved parent is listened to and respected.

Northern Ireland representatives also attend meetings of the two Sands/DH groups working on improving the quality of perinatal mortality review and on developing public health messages for stillbirth. And it’s represented on the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists group advising on the research needed to improve maternal and newborn care. This level of joined-up working aims to help spread good practice so that women across the UK’s countries can have a similar expectation of care and, when needed, support – something for which Sands has long campaigned.