Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Trust has highest infant mortality rates in Northern Ireland

By Allan Preston

Belfast Health Trust has been given a 'red light' warning for stillbirths and neonatal deaths in a report by experts.

Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries (MBRACE-UK) named 21 health bodies across the UK as underperforming.

Experts looked at 165 similar organisations by type and size to compare higher-than-expected perinatal mortality - stillbirths and deaths which occur during the first 28 days of life.

Using a traffic light system, 21 health organisations were labelled red, the most serious category.

This indicated mortality rates 10% higher than the average expected of that type of organisation.

The Belfast Trust was the only health body in Northern Ireland singled out.

NHS Trusts in Sheffield, Bristol and Liverpool were among others named.

The MBRACE report urges the 21 organisations to investigate the higher rates. Dr Brad Manktelow, associate professor at the University of Leicester, led the statistical analysis.

"Those trusts and health boards identified with high rates of stillbirth or neonatal death rates should review the quality of the care they provide," he said.

He added that work was currently under way to develop "a standardised perinatal mortality review tool to support and improve the quality of review of all stillbirths and neonatal deaths within all trusts and health boards in the future".

A spokesperson for Belfast Health and Social Care Trust said yesterday: "We would need time to properly read and assess this report before giving it a considered response."

While stillbirth rates in the UK have fallen in recent years, the rate remains high compared to similar European countries and "significant variation" remains across Britain.

In 2015 the UK stillbirth rate was 3.87 per 1,000 births compared to 4.2 per 1,000 in 2013 - a fall of 8%. The neonatal death rate remained similar, falling from 1.84 in 2015 to 1.74 in 2013 for every 1,000 live births.

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