Stillbirth and Neonatal Awareness Month – June 2022

By Blackwater Law

Mother’s hands holding newborn baby feet

June 2022 is stillbirth and neonatal death awareness month. The yearly campaign run by SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal death charity) to raise awareness around the issues surrounding neonatal death and stillbirth. 

Current state of maternity care

Raising funds and awareness for neonatal issues will help research into neonatal death and stillbirth. Conditions that lead to stillbirth are often unknown at the time, and it is difficult to ascertain a cause of death in many cases. 

According to SANDS, around 13 babies die every day either before, during, or after a birth. This figure has been declining in previous years; however, the rate of neonatal death has stagnated in the last 12 years.  

The Ockenden Report

2022 has been watershed moments for the conversation around stillbirth and neonatal care. At the end of March 2022, the final report of the Ockenden Review was released. It detailed the failings of the maternity services at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust. We have covered the Ockenden report previously.  

The report initially started reviewing the cases of 23 families who suffered poor care. By the end of the report, it had grown to nearly 1,500 families and spanning almost two decades. 

Racial disparities in maternity care

Just in the last week, a new report from the campaign group ‘Birthrights’ has highlighted the racial disparities in maternity care and neonatal death.

The report found stark contrasts in care and neonatal death rates with BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) mothers. It is estimated that black women are four times as likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth than white women. Asian women were also twice as likely to die.

The report described racial stereotyping, and assumptions about the pain tolerance of black and Asian women, as the cause of negligent care.

Black and Asian women often cited lack of access to pain relief due to assumptions that they could handle the pain.

You can read the full report here

Nottingham University Hospitals Trust

Following her report into the Shrewsbury maternity scandal, Donna Ockenden has now been appointed to chair an independent inquiry into the maternity services at Nottingham Hospitals.

It comes after much campaigning from affected families, who feared the initial report commissioned by NHS England would not go far enough.

The trust’s maternity services have been rated as ‘inadequate,’ with several concerns and issues being raised by the CQC in their preliminary findings.

We will have updates on the progress of the report as it develops.

Birth Injury and death claims

In the incidence of the Ockenden report at Shrewsbury, litigation was needed by the families to retrieve the answers that they were struggling to get from the hospital trust. Making a claim is not only to recover damages or pay for any future care, but it is also used to find out what exactly happened and hopefully stop it happening in the future.

It is not clear whether there has been an increase in birth injury claims, as often they can take a while to surface or appear as problems. Blackwater law are experts in medical negligence with regards to birth injury and neonatal death, to mother and baby.

Get expert legal advice

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