NHS England launches initiative to cut stillbirths

Published: 01 April 2016 Ezine

NHS England has published new guidance to reduce stillbirths from 4.7 per thousand to 2.3 per thousand by 2030. 

At present, there are more than 3000 stillbirths a year (representing one in every 200 babies in the UK), more than twice as much as countries with the lowest rates.

The new ‘Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle’ brings together guidance to in a single package for the first time, focusing on small interventions and highlighting best practice.

The guidance was developed by stakeholders including midwives, obstetricians and stillbirth charities. It is designed to support ultrasound practitioners, commissioners and providers.

An information and advice leaflet on reduced fetal movement is being launched and will be provided to all women by week 24 of their pregnancy.

The new guidance revolves around four key interventions;

  • Reducing smoking in pregnant women - All women should be offered an antenatal test to establish the level of carbon monoxide the fetus is exposed to as well as referral to stop smoking support
  • Enhancing detection of fetal growth restriction - Growth of babies should be monitored and recorded on growth charts and an algorithm should be used to indicate the level of monitoring required. Growth restricted babies are the single largest preventable group.
  • Improving awareness of the importance of reduced fetal movement - Women and their partners should be better informed and more empowered to monitor their baby’s movements by clear, consistent advice.
  • Improving fetal monitoring during labour - There should be annual training and assessment for staff on cardiotocograph) interpretation and use of auscultation during labour. A buddy system for CTG interpretation should also be implemented so that ‘fresh eyes’ can detect any potential problems. 

“The College of Radiographers welcomes this initiative from NHS England,” Charlotte Beardmore, the CoR’s Director of Professional Policy said.

“It will potentially increase ultrasound demand and we know there are already challenges to the delivery of ultrasound services because there are not enough sonographers.”

The College of Radiographers is a stakeholder in the Health Education England Sonography Steering Group established to find solutions to meet growing ultrasound demand and is due to report later this year.

Click here to download the care bundle.