This interim report of the second wave of pilot sites for The National Bereavement Care Pathway examines the impact and effectiveness of the pathway in the 21 trusts that implemented the NBCP in spring 2018. The findings are taken from a online survey of 1,268 health professionals in the participating sites, which ran from 2nd May to 9th July 2018.
The main aim of the survey was to set baseline measures so that changes prompted the NBCP can be measured in a follow up survey in early 2019.
The survey revealed that many professionals (67%) are very positive about the bereavement care their trust provides. Overall 8 out of 10 professionals surveyed know what they need to do to provide effective bereavement care, 5 out of 10 feel prepared to communicate with bereaved parents and a similar number feel capable to deliver bad news. Specialist bereavement midwives are having a positive influence on bereavement care where they are in post.
However, there are concerns that bereavement care is left to more experienced staff; only 4 out of 10 agreed that bereaved parents received a consistent approach to their care across the hospital.
The survey also revealed significant areas of inconsistent care that the NBCP aims to address. Care for parents experiencing early miscarriage, those experiencing termination for fetal abnormality, those attending A&E, and those in gynaecology wards was most often highlighted as in need of improvement. In short, the earlier the loss, the less consistent the bereavement care both in hospital and in the community.
In terms of barriers to more effective bereavement care, increased training, better facilities, more dedicated staff time, and simplified paperwork were cited most often as issues to address.
This is an interim, baseline report and therefore we must treat any findings with caution.
The findings of this report are not directly comparable with the wave 1 final report (October 2018) as that was based on the experiences of parents and a follow-up survey by professionals who had worked in a Trust in the process of implementing the NBCP over a number of months.
Greater comparisons and contrasts to the wave 1 final report will be made when the wave 2 final report is published in April 2019.
Sands is leading the National Bereavement Care Pathway (NBCP)project in collaboration with other charities and with the support of the Department of Health and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Baby Loss.