Following an ongoing debate, sonographers will know that the Society is very aware of and has concerns relating to the implementation of NHS England/Improvement’s (NHSE/I) Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle v2 (SBLCBv2).
Although the SoR and sonographers naturally wish to support evidence based initiatives to reduce the numbers of stillbirths in the UK, we were not consulted on SBLCBv2. There have been concerns expressed by many that the resources required to fully implement the SBLCBv2 requirements in the timescale set by NHSE/I are not all in place.
There is a recognised and long standing shortage of qualified sonographers. There are also identified training requirements, for example the introduction of uterine artery Doppler into the pathway, which the majority of sonographers do not have experience of. The issues were highlighted in a recent Perinatal Institute and British Medical Ultrasound Society survey.
The Society has discussed the implementation of SBLCBv2 with NHSE/I, Health Education England, the National Imaging Optimisation Delivery Board, and the Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme (FASP, Public Health England).
There are wider implications for overall ultrasound service delivery as 71% of sonographers are from a radiography background. They also provide critical diagnostic ultrasound services in many other fields such as general medicine and surgery, musculo-skeletal, and vascular. Sonographers also have an important role in the early cancer diagnosis initiatives.
SBLCBv2 has now been embedded in the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST) Maternity Incentive Scheme. If the requirements of the scheme are met, this can lead to major financial savings for trusts; there are 10 safety actions that can be taken by trusts, of which SBLCBv2 is one (Safety Action 6).
SoR is concerned that this incentive for implementation will result in pressure on managers and sonographers for the implementation timescale of SBLCBv2 to be met. The CNST is the responsibility of NHS Resolution and the updated CNST Maternity Incentive Scheme Year Three standards are on the website.
There is a recent webinar hosted by NHSE/I that gives further details and is worth accessing. There is a section of the presentation specifically related to SBLCBv2 and CNST, as well as a few related questions at the end. Further questions will be published soon. Slides from the webinar are also available.
The Society are continuing to closely monitor and will raise and discuss issues and concerns with NHSE/I and other relevant NHS bodies.