Sands works to improve safety of care for parents and babies across the UK. Here’s an overview of our work in England.

In November 2015 the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, announced an ambition to reduce stillbirths and neonatal deaths in England by 20% by 2020 and 50% by 2030. In October 2016 he launched the Safer Maternity Care action plan, which sets out the improvements to maternity services that are expected by 2018 and that will “make a difference in each and every maternity and neonatal service across the country”. Sands is committed to ensuring the Government meets these targets.


Sands’ role

  • Our Preventing Babies Deaths report called for a national strategy to reduce baby deaths in 2011
  • The Safer Maternity Care action plan features Sands projects:
    • Our Chance campaign
    • the Perinatal Mortality Review Tool, developed by a Sands-led stakeholder group


Save Babies’ Lives Care Bundle

The NHS England Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle brings together four important areas of care which could help reduce stillbirth and early neonatal death rates. Sands helped to develop the Bundle, along with midwives and obstetricians. The four parts are looking at:

  • Stopping smoking during pregnancy
  • Better and ongoing training around CTG interpretation (the CTG is the trace showing the baby’s heart rate during labour)
  • Measuring baby’s growth during pregnancy and the use of different growth charts depending on the mother’s characteristics
  • Making pregnant women aware of the importance of their baby’s movements


Sands’ role

  • We helped NHS England develop the Care Bundle and wrote an introduction
  • Our support is featured at the start of the information pack
  • We’re part of a group evaluating the success of the Care Bundle


Maternity Transformation Stakeholder Council

The Better Births report from the independent review of maternity services was published in February 2016. It sets out a vision for maternity services across England to become safer, more personalised, kinder, professional and more family friendly

NHS England has committed to delivering the recommendations in Better Births through the Maternity Transformation Programme. A Maternity Transformation Stakeholder Council oversees the programme, representing the views of users

Sands’ role

  • We’re a member of the Maternity Transformation Stakeholder Council


The Scottish Stillbirth Working Group

The Scottish Stillbirth Working Group is chaired by Dr Sarah Stock and brings together clinicians, public health experts and Sands. The Group is part of the Scottish Patient Safety Programme – Maternity and Children’s Quality Improvement Collaborative (MCQIC). Scotland achieved its target of a 15% reduction in stillbirths by 2015 and is now aiming to reduce the rate by a further 20% by 2020

The Working Group supported the development of the large AFFIRM study looking at advice to pregnant mothers about their baby’s movements

The Scottish government held a review of maternity and neonatal services in 2015 and will report on the findings soon.

Sands’ role

  • Scottish Stillbirth Working Group:
    • Set up following Sands’ pressure via our Saving Babies’ Lives report and our parliamentary petition
    • Sands is a member and makes sure parents’ views are heard
  • An important presence at the annual Scottish stillbirth conferences


The Health and Social Care Committee of the National Assembly for Wales held a stillbirth inquiry in 2012. This set out recommendations that are being promoted by the Welsh Stillbirth Working Group. This Group, chaired by Prof Jean White, Chief Nursing Officer, brings together clinicians, public health experts and Sands. It liaises directly with all the Welsh Health Boards. The Group’s work programme is here.


Sands’ role

  • Welsh Stillbirth Working Group:
    • Set up following Sands’ lobbying at the Senedd via our Saving Babies’ Lives report
    • Sands is a member and makes sure parents’ views are heard
  • Welsh stillbirth Enquiry
    • We were asked to give evidence to the Enquiry and to review progress a year later

Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Maternal and Infant Steering Group (NIMI) looks at all baby deaths from miscarriages to infant deaths at one year. It includes clinicians, baby charities and health officials.

What Sands Does

  • Sands NI Co-ordinator sits on the NIMI group, contributing parents’ views


Sands is a member of the MBRRACE-UK collaboration that investigates stillbirths, neonatal deaths and maternal deaths across the UK. (MBRRACE-UK is the abbreviation for Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audit and Confidential Enquiries)

Confidential Enquiries

MBRRACE-UK carries out confidential enquiries into the deaths of specific groups of babies. Experts look at anonymised case notes to see if there were problems with the care received. The enquiry into babies stillborn at the end of pregnancy (term) found that better care might have changed what happened for six out of ten babies. The recommendations of this enquiry have led to changes in maternity care. The enquiry reports with lay and infographic versions are here www.npeu.ox.ac.uk/mbrrace-uk/reports

The current confidential enquiry is looking at babies who die during and soon after labour. It will be published in 2017

Sands’ role

  • We put forward term stillbirths as an enquiry topic
  • We are a member of MBRRACE-UK and contributed throughout the enquiry, participating in the enquiry panels
  • We were an important presence at the report launch and media coverage

Improving information on deaths

MBRRACE-UK collects information from all UK hospitals on babies dying before, during or shortly after birth. Their annual reports include national maps showing how the different areas’ death rates compare with the national average. Areas with rates above the national average are recommended to look at what is happening in their area and introduce improvements to reduce the number of deaths. Areas with lower rates are encouraged to reduce their rates to levels seen in some European countries

The reports and summaries written for a lay audience are available here www.npeu.ox.ac.uk/mbrrace-uk/reports

Sands’ role

  • We are MBRRACE-UK members, contributing a parent perspective in the work to gather, analyse and share information about baby deaths