Women’s Voices members Michelle Hemmington and Nicky Lyon have sat on the project advisory group for the RCOG’s Each Baby Counts (EBC) project since it began. Michelle talks about their involvement and other work to improve safety in women and babies health that they are involved in.
Each Baby Counts is the RCOG’s national quality improvement programme to reduce the number of babies who die or are left severely disabled as a result of incidents occurring during term labour. Nicky and myself have been involved in the project since its inception 18 months ago. We sit on the project advisory group as patient representatives, both having had devastating first-hand experiences.
My son Louie died due to lack of oxygen during labour. Nicky’s son Harry was born with profound brain damage due to lack of oxygen and died at 18 months. You can read more about our experiences, and those of other families.
Currently there are between 500-800 tragedies like ours each year in the UK. The RCOG does not accept that these are all unavoidable, and Each Baby Counts aims to reduce this unnecessary suffering and loss of life by 50% by 2020. EBC is doing this through data collection of serious incident reports, and an ongoing audit of these reports. The project can then identify patterns in care that are contributing to these incidents and recommend changes in practice based on these.
Nicky and I provide a parents' perspective to the project, and can contribute in a way that someone who hasn’t been through this type of avoidable loss cannot. It has been interesting to see the data that has been collected so far and how this will be used as the project evolves.
You can read about how the project is progressing through the most recent project newsletter which you can sign up to for regular updates. Driving change has been a passion for both of us since we lost our sons. Together we set up the Campaign for Safer Births and we’re also influencing safety as members of the joint NHS/RCOG Women’s Health Patient Safety Expert Group. I also recently trained as an RCOG media spokesperson and am keen to use this to empower others to talk about their experiences and the need for improvements and change in this area.
We are really pleased to be involved in this work and are confident that Each Baby Counts, along with the other initiatives we are involved in, will help to reduce the number of avoidable deaths so other families do not have to go through the devastation of losing a child in the way Nicky and I have.