Our vision is for a world where fewer babies die
The Department of Health committed to halving the rate of stillbirths and infant deaths in England by 2025.
To reach this goal, governments in the UK will have to at least double the rate at which they are reducing baby deaths every year between now and then. It is one of Sands’ six strategic commitments to push for the 2020 and 2015 ambitions to be met. We are involved in several pieces of national work to support this aim and ensure parents' voices are at the heart of initiatives to prevent avoidable deaths, wherever possible.
High quality data to reduce deaths - MBRRACE-UK
Sands is a member of the MBRRACE-UK (Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audit and Confidential Enquiries) collaboration. MBRRACE-UK is the national audit programme commissioned by all UK governments to collect information about all stillbirths, neonatal deaths and maternal deaths across the UK. The programme tracks information about where and why babies and mothers die.
The data depends on Trusts and Health Boards sending prompt notifications of perinatal deaths. All Trusts and HBs can access a localised, real-time online report to track their own outcomes and quickly indentify any issues of concern.
MBRRACE-UK produces annual public reports on perinatal deaths, presenting the data for the UK in map form. The report includes analysis of causes of death, trends over time, and risk factors such as maternal age, ethnicity and social deprivation.
Safer maternity care
Sands works not only to improve bereavement care for families when their baby dies, but also to improve antenatal care and care in labour to prevent babies dying in the first place. We have been working collaboratively since 2012 with health professionals, researchers and policy makers, to ensure action to reduce baby deaths is an urgent priority.
Reviewing every baby death
In order to understand where there are gaps in the quality of care for mothers and their babies, it is vital that the health service reviews the care mother and baby received when things go wrong.
An enquiry in 2015 (MBRRACE-UK confidential enquiry into babies who died after 37 weeks of pregnancy before birth ‘antepartum term stillbirths’) found that in 60% of stillbirths, the stillbirth might have been prevented if health professionals had followed national guidelines. An enquiry in 2017 found that 80% of babies who died as a result of something going wrong in labour might also have been prevented had babies received different care.
Although professional groups recommend that hospitals review what happened when a baby dies unexpectedly, the confidential enquiries routinely found that only one in ten hospitals carry out a review and many of these are not good quality.
Our consultations with parents
We reflect the experiences parents tell us about in our work to reduce baby deaths. Personal stories are powerful in changing attitudes.
We have asked for bereaved parents views on:
- the complaints system in England
- maternity care in Wales
- minimally Invasive Autopsy as an alternative to traditional post mortem
- maternity care in England
- parents’ priorities for research topics
- parents views about hospital reviews of their and their baby’s care
- experiences of maternity, neonatal and bereavement care during the COVID19 pandemic
National parent surveys
- In 2019 we conducted a Sands survey of experiences of maternity, neonatal and post-natal care - see the survey report here.
- In 2014 we helped a research team at Oxford University conduct a national survey about parents experiences of care. The report from that survey has influenced care across the UK. Read the Listening to Parents Reports.
Safer pregnancy advice
Our Safer Pregnancy website offers straight-talking good advice for pregnant women and mums-to-be.
Although not all baby deaths can be prevented there are ways of ensuring you are as healthy as is possible in pregnancy.
If you are a mother-to-be, the Safer Pregnancy site offers reliable, evidence-based advice. But if you have any concerns at all about your pregnancy you should always talk to your GP or midwife straight away. Don't ever feel you should not bother them.