Sparked by the success of a previous stillbirth seminar that Sands co-hosted at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) in London, Sands and Healthier Scotland jointly hosted the Scottish Stillbirth Seminar in Edinburgh last month. 

Held at the Royal College of Physicians, the event was well attended by around 150 health professionals including obstetricians and midwives, as well as some parents.  It informed delegates about stillbirth, highlighted that many deaths are preventable and explained what changes they can make in their own practice to promote a reduction in deaths.

The seminar brought together leading clinical experts presenting on a range of topics including: ‘Does pathology make a difference?’, ‘The role of the midwife’ and ‘Fetal movements – to count or not to count?’.

Sands supporter, Dr Alexander Heazell, Senior Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Obstetrics at Manchester University, presented ‘The placenta and stillbirth – opening the black box’.

It was a highly engaging event, with enthusiastic audience participation and debate in the Q&A session chaired by Scottish newsreader Sally Magnusson: ‘The Scottish stillbirth rate has remained almost static for more than 20 years – Why? Not caring, not trying, no money?’.

A highlight of the day was the presentation by Dr Catherine Calderwood, Medical Adviser Scottish Government showing a striking contrast between the reduction of road deaths and lack of reduction of stillbirths yet illustrating what can be achieved when people are determined to bring about change.

The event also witnessed a powerful presentation by bereaved father and Sands supporter, Heath Malcolm. The participation of parents at such events is invaluable and we are extremely grateful to Mr Malcolm for sharing the story of his daughter Ruby.

The seminar was extremely well received with many delegates saying they would be changing their practice when they started work the next morning. There are now plans to repeat the event with student doctors and midwives.

The seminar was funded by the Scottish Government. The Scottish Minister for Public Health Michael Mathieson was unable to make the event but requested a briefing on it.