NHS England has today (21 March) launched of the Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle, following a two year programme of work involving extensive engagement with clinical experts.
The new guidance is part of the governments’ drive to halve the rate of stillbirths from 4.7 per thousand to 2.3 per thousand by 2030, potentially avoiding the tragedy of stillbirth for more than 1500 families every year.
This is the first time that guidance specifically for reducing stillbirths has been brought together in a coherent package. It will support commissioners, providers and professionals in making care safer for women and babies.
Building on existing clinical guidance and best practice, the guidance was developed by NHS England working with organisations including the Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, British Maternal and Fetal Medicine Society and Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity.
The Saving Babies Lives Care Bundle is a combined approach consisting of four elements:
- Reducing smoking in pregnancy
- Enhancing detection of fetal growth restriction
- Improving awareness of the importance of fetal movement
- Improving fetal monitoring during labour
Charlotte Bevan, Senior Research and Prevention Advisor at Sands, said:
“Sands support hundreds of parents every year, whose baby has died before, during or shortly after birth. Many believe their baby’s death was not inevitable and opportunities were missed to save their child.
“Recent in depth analysis of quality of care into a number of stillbirths occurring around the baby’s due date, published by MBRRACE-UK, supports that belief, telling us that 6 out of 10 of these deaths might have been prevented if basic antenatal guidelines had been implemented.
“The elements in the ‘Saving Babies’ Lives’ care bundle pick up on those clear messages by promoting best practice both in the antenatal and intrapartum period, around reduced fetal movements and monitoring growth to meet standards and guidance already established, as well as support for women who smoke in pregnancy (the leading modifiable risk factor for stillbirth) and up-to-date training in fetal heart monitoring to prevent deaths during labour.
“The UK’s progress on preventing avoidable stillbirths has, to date, been scandalously slow, four times slower than countries like the Netherlands. The focus of the care bundle provides a long-overdue opportunity to reinforce best practice and ensure safer care both in pregnancy and during labour to protect babies’ lives in the future, and we urge trusts across the country to implement it straight away.”
Notes to editors
Sands contributed, as advisory group members, to the development of NHS England’s new Stillbirth Care Bundle, and supported stillbirth prevention work in the 12 Maternity Strategic Clinical Networks.
The NHS England press release on the Saving Babies' Lives care bundle can be viewed here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/2016/03/stillbirths/
 The Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle will is available on the NHS England website https://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/futurenhs/mat-review/saving-babies/
 MBRRACE-UK Perinatal Confidential Enquiry: Term, singleton, normally formed, antepartum stillbirth report 2015