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'First steps' to better care for bereaved parents announced

Quality of care for bereaved parents after the loss of a child is set for a boost from the Department of Health

Quality of care for bereaved parents after the loss of a child is set for a boost as the Department of Health announced its support for a new National Bereavement Care Pathway (NBCP).

With 11 pilot sites in England, bereavement charity Sands will test the use of new materials, guidelines and training for professionals to help improve the care bereaved parents received. They will work with Sands’ project team to understand the impact and the effectiveness of the pathway.

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Developed to improve the quality of bereavement care experienced by parents and families at all stages of pregnancy and baby loss up to 12 months, the NBCP will launch in October in areas including Liverpool, York, Devon and Middlesex which have been chosen as they are ‘representative of geography, capacity and specialism’.

Sands chief executive Clea Harmer said: ‘I am delighted that we have so many enthusiastic partners across the country who want to work with us in improving bereavement care for those parents when a baby dies.

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‘As a collaboration we were inundated with offers of support and I am excited by the potential impact that the pathway will have in these 11 sites, in the first instance. We look forward to learning from their experiences before wave 2 begins and the wider roll out later next year.’

Due to the large variation in the kinds of bereavement care available in different regions, Sands said it will strive to offer ‘the same high standard of parent-centred, empathic and safe care when a baby dies’ nationwide.

Sands’ greatest concern with the current state of provision has been that ‘poor care can and does make things much worse’.

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Both the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and of Nurses (RCN) have given their backing to the initiative with RCN midwifery lead Carmel Bagness describing it as the ‘first step towards better care throughout the country for parents and families suffering from this terrible loss’.

RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick said: ‘This is important work because it is about giving bereaved families better care following the sad loss of a baby and we need to get it right. Learning from parents and the results of the work at the pilot sites will mean care can be better tailored to meet the needs of families.’