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Call to recruit midwives in bid to tackle problem of stillbirths

Published 10/04/2016

Rates of stillbirths vary across the country, figures suggest
Rates of stillbirths vary across the country, figures suggest

The UK needs to do more to help prevent stillbirths in deprived areas, The Royal College of Midwives has said.

One in every 200 babies is stillborn in the UK and there is around a 25% variation in stillbirth rates across England, according to NHS figures.

New research, published in UK medical journal The Lancet, has found maternal and child deaths around the world could be significantly reduced by investing in essential health services.

Louise Silverton, director of Midwifery at The Royal College of Midwives, welcomed the study and called on the Government to recruit more NHS midwives.

She said: "In the UK attention to preventing stillbirths in the approach to term must be improved, this has been recognised and government initiatives are in place.

"To do this there must be sufficient midwives employed in the NHS.

"In addition, the UK still needs to do more to address health inequalities and to reduce stillbirths in areas of social deprivation."

In 2015, nearly six million children under the age of five died as did more than 300,000 women from pregnancy-related causes around the world.

At a cost of around £3.50 per person on services including contraception, treatment for infectious diseases and nutritional supplements, four million lives could be saved every year globally, according to the report led by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in America.

Ms Silverton added: "The RCM welcomes this latest study, but it is important to remember that improvements in overall child health outcomes show that perinatal outcomes have not improved as much as those for older children, much more needs to be done to improve this.

"These findings must be looked at with The Lancet series on midwifery that showed that access to midwifery care in low and middle income countries could vastly reduce maternal and perinatal mortality."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "We are determined to make the NHS the safest place in the world to have a baby and since 2010 we have over 2,400 more midwives and 6,000 in training.

"We're committed to halving the number of stillbirths by 2030 - we're investing in improved training for staff, new safety equipment and improved processes so hospitals review and learn from every stillbirth."

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