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Each Baby Counts

Blog 3 November 2014

Professor Alan Cameron, Vice President (Clinical Quality), writes…

Over 300 people attended our Each Baby Counts launch last week, all coming together to support our new quality improvement project, which aims to reduce by 50% the number of stillbirths, early neonatal deaths and brain injuries occurring in the UK as a result of incidents during term labour by 2020.

This is the College’s flagship initiative and will be undertaken by our new Lindsay Stewart Centre for Audit and Clinical Informatics.

There was a fantastic turnout for the launch and it was great to welcome so many people all united in their commitment to reduce unnecessary tragedies which affect many families every year.

Stillbirth rates in the UK remain stubbornly high. Current estimates suggest that around 500 babies a year die or are left severely disabled, not because they are born too soon, too small, or with a congenital abnormality, but because something goes wrong during labour. Some babies who are starved of oxygen at birth survive but are left with a severe brain injury. Sadly many of these babies will not survive infancy, or will suffer with a life-long disability.

Our 50% reduction target may sound ambitious but we believe that this is achievable.

Our plan is to collect and analyse data from local incident investigations into these cases from all UK units, with the aim of identifying lessons learned to improve future care. We will then be able to make recommendations on how to improve practice at a national level.

At the launch event we heard from a number of speakers including Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, who gave a powerful insight into the impact of losing a baby and bringing to the fore why we are tackling this subject. Sands are committed to raising awareness of stillbirth, funding research projects and helping parents and families deal with grief following the loss of a baby.

We also heard from Professor Gordon Smith who outlined what we know about the possible causes and risk factors for stillbirth and Professor Lesley Page, President of the RCM, who discussed the changing role of midwives in intrapartum care.

Now we have outlined our project, the hard work begins. We will shortly be writing to all Trusts and Health Boards to let them know what they need to do to get ready for data collection, which begins in January. We have a dedicated, enthusiastic and energetic team driving the project and an expert and independent advisory group overseeing it. If you have any questions about the Each Baby Counts project, please visit the website or email the team at eachbabycounts@rcog.org.uk.

If you missed the launch you can see what happened on our storify page