This is the third MBRRACE-UK report comparing the rate of babies who die in different health services across the UK. The work, which is funded by all four UK governments, aims to highlight variation from place to place and show trends over time. Are more or fewer babies dying? Who’s most at risk? Understanding these vital questions informs Health Services across the UK in delivering and improving care.
MBRRACE-UK’s 2017 report shows that between 2013 and 2015, there was an 8% fall in the rate of babies who died either before, during or shortly after birth. This represents 285 lives but still means that on average 15 babies die every day in the UK. The main fall in deaths is among babies dying at term, from 37 weeks onwards. We still have a long way to go to reach the Secretary of State’s ambition to reach a 20% reduction of stillbirths and baby deaths by 2020, let alone a halving of that number by 2030.
Clea Harmer, Chief Executive at Sands said: “The fall in the number and rate of baby deaths is to be welcomed but it remains the case that a baby dies either before, during or shortly after birth every 96 mins in the UK. Every one of these babies represents the tragic loss of a much-loved and much-wanted child. For every family affected the death of a baby is also the loss of a family’s hopes and dreams for the future.
“This report comes in the wake of the Each Baby Counts (EBC) report published yesterday looking at the cases of more than 1,000 babies who either died or were brain injured as a result of events in labour close to their due date. Shockingly in the cases EBC was able to review, in 3 out of 4 cases different care might have prevented harm or death. In a remaining 400 odd cases information was so poor, EBC couldn’t come to any conclusion about what exactly happened to those babies.
“Recommendations made by EBC are echoed by MBRRACE-UK today, urging that Trusts and Health Boards investigate all baby deaths to understand what happened so parents get proper answers about why their baby died. This is also vitally important if organisations are to learn from deaths and improve care where they can for future families. We know from confidential enquiries, also undertaken by MBRRACE-UK, that the lives of 6 out of 10 babies who die close to their due date might be saved with improvements to care.
“While recommendations in reports such as these are vitally useful, in order to respond to them units will need adequate staff and resourcing. It’s clear that many aspects of maternity and neonatal care are increasingly too stretched to give the kind of care mothers and their babies should expect and reports such as these recommend.”