On 23 October, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) launched ‘Each Baby Counts’ – its initiative to halve by 2020 the number of babies who die during or shortly after birth or are born with serious brain injury because of an incident during labour.  The initiative has been warmly welcomed by Sands.

At the moment, when things go wrong during labour there is a local review of what happened. ‘Each Baby Counts’, which will be run by a national team based at RCOG, will bring the results of these local investigations together so that common themes can be identified and lessons shared more widely across the NHS. All NHS trusts and health boards are expected to submit information about the deaths and injuries that happen in their units so Each Baby Counts will have a national perspective.

Sands’ Research and Prevention Manager, Janet Scott, spoke at the London launch of Each Baby Counts, describing Sands’ relentless efforts over the last 10 years to make preventing stillbirths and neonatal deaths a national policy priority. And colleague Charlotte Bevan, Senior Research and Prevention Advisor, talked movingly about her daughter, Hope, and the circumstances around her death during labour in 2001. Many delegates took to Twitter to say how much they valued Charlotte’s contribution and Sands’ dedication to ensuring the voices of parents are heard.  

Other speakers at the launch event included Professor Gordon Smith, from Cambridge, who described some of the challenges in studying how to reduce stillbirths. Professor Smith leads POPS, the Pregnancy Outcome Prediction Study, which is trying to find better ways of identifying babies in trouble during the pregnancy. Sands funds a small part of this multi-million pound project. Professor Derek Tufnell, a consultant obstetrician who regularly gives evidence in legal cases on incidents when the baby either dies or is brain damaged during labour, described how the NHS pays out nearly 40% of the funding it gets for the maternity care of low-risk women for insurance against legal claims. A lot of money that could be used for other purposes, he suggested, if the risks and hence the insurance costs could be brought down.

There is more information about Each Baby Counts at www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/audit-quality-improvement/each-baby-counts/ and you can follow comment at #eachbabycounts

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