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RCOG statement in response to study showing fall in the stillbirth rate across the UK

News 28 June 2017

The MBRRACE-UK report published last week (22 June) showed that the stillbirth rate in the UK has reduced by almost 8% over the period 2013 to 2015. In 2015, the stillbirth rate was 3.87 per 1,000 total births, a fall from 4.20 per 1,000 total births in 2013. Over the same period, the neonatal death rate has remained fairly static with a fall between 2013 and 2015 from 1.84 to 1.74 deaths per 1,000 live births. Data for the Neonatal Networks shows that neonatal mortality rates vary between 1.15 and 3.21 deaths per 1,000 live births. 

Broadly similar NHS Trusts and Health Boards have been grouped together by their type of care or size in order to provide an appropriate comparison of their mortality rates. A traffic light system has been used to highlight those where action needs to be taken to improve outcomes.

Commenting on the study, Professor Lesley Regan, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), said: 

"We are very encouraged by the results of the latest MBRRACE report which show an 8% reduction in stillbirth rates across the UK. However, although the findings are welcome, there is still some way to go to address the high death rates and level of variation across the UK, which are still too high when compared to similar European countries. Disappointingly, the findings only show a small reduction in neonatal death rates. 

“Last week, we published the key clinical actions needed to improve quality of care and to prevent deaths and brain injuries that occur during childbirth, as part of our Each Baby Counts initiative. These key actions include adhering to best practice on fetal monitoring and neonatal care, as well as addressing potential human factors that lead to poor decision making in stressful situations. 

“The RCOG also publishes maternity indicators, which describe patterns of care during labour and delivery, enabling Trusts to examine their own practice in context and to ensure their services meet the needs of women and their families. The College also works closely with hospitals which invite us to conduct external reviews of their maternity services to identify where improvements can be made.

"Having a baby should be the most exciting time in a woman and her family's life. As professional leaders working at the forefront of health care for women and babies, we have a duty to ensure that we deliver the best possible care." 

"The RCOG remains totally committed to improving maternity safety. We are proud that our College has taken a proactive role in helping to drive forward quality improvement and to reduce cases of avoidable harm during childbirth.”


Notes to Editors 

Each Baby Counts:

Maternity indicators:

Invited Review Service:

For media enquiries please contact the RCOG press office on +44 (0)20 7045 6773 or email

About the RCOG
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision.