Hundreds of babies who are stillborn or suffer complications after birth could have seen a different outcome if their care had been different, according to a report from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).
Each Baby Counts, published on 21 June, indicated that foetal monitoring best practice is key to reducing baby deaths and brain injuries during childbirth. Launched in October 2014, the project’s aim is to halve the number of babies who die or are left severely disabled as a result of preventable incidents occurring during term labour – i.e., after 37 weeks – by 2020.
Assessments were carried out by specialists on the care of 1,136 babies born in the UK in 2015. Of these, 126 were stillborn, 156 died within the first seven days after birth and there were 854 babies who met the eligibility criteria for severe brain injury.
The reviewers concluded that 76% of these babies might have had a different outcome with different care.
Mandy Forester, head of quality and standards for the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: ‘This report clearly shows that a quarter of local investigations were not thorough enough, the RCM believes that immediate improvements in the investigation process are needed.
‘It is only through thorough investigation and implementation of recommendations that lessons can be learned from these tragic events. We must do everything possible to prevent them, and improve care and safety.
‘Each one of these statistics contained within this report, mean horrendous loss and suffering for parents. We must do all we can to work collaboratively to reduce the chances of these occurring.’
Both the RCM and RCOG have worked on a joint electronic foetal monitoring statement which will outline recommendations for doctors and midwives. It will be published ‘in the coming weeks’, according to Ms Forester.