Dececember 2013. 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.
July 2013. Since the Why17? campaign launch, our Northern Ireland Network has continued to build and foster relationships with Assembly Members. In July, Sands was invited to be a member of a new Assembly group, the Northern Ireland Child-Loss Working Group, which has a remit to look at all child loss from miscarriage up to one year old, including preventable stillbirth. Sands will provide parent input to the working group and we are delighted to have this opportunity to share our expertise and knowledge, as well as the experiences of bereaved parents.
March 2010. The Sands Why17? campaign launched in Ireland, with an event at the Northern Ireland Assembly and an Ireland-specific media campaign. We joined forces with Bliss and TinyLife charities for an event at the Northern Ireland Assembly, issuing a briefing to government, Every Baby Matters, which called for the prevention of stillbirth and neonatal death and world class support for premature and sick babies and their families.