NHS England is developing a ‘Care Bundle’ for Stillbirth Reduction. This is a series of interventions and improvements to quality of care which they are encouraging maternity units to introduce to help reduce stillbirths. Some aspects come from work already being carried out in the Northern region, and the bundle elements were introduced to heads of midwifery and other interested parties at a Saving Babies Lives: Reducing Stillbirth and Early Neonatal Death event in Bolton on 27 October.

The four elements of the bundle are:

  • stopping smoking – all women to be offered a test to check their carbon monoxide level at their antenatal appointments
  • monitoring babies’ growth during pregnancy – using the GAP Programme that trains midwives to make consistent measurements and  use growth charts personalised to the mother’s characteristics
  • reminding pregnant women of the importance of babies’ movements and encouraging units to develop consistent care pathways if a woman phones to say she is concerned
  • monitoring during labour, with units encouraged to develop a system where ‘fresh eyes’ double check important CTG traces during labour (the CTG monitors the baby’s heart rate and the trace can show if a baby is in distress).

The Bolton event was a ‘call to action’, with NHS England North’s Gill Harris, Chief Nurse, and Debby Gould, Programme Manager Nursing and Midwifery, asking midwifery colleagues to share their thoughts on the bundle and how they could start to make a difference. Practically everyone who spoke at the event expressed their enthusiasm for the project and their desire to reduce the number of babies dying. NHS England, in collaboration with experts and charities, including Sands, will continue to develop and refine the bundle elements over the coming months.