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Managing Events Surrounding a Maternal Death and Supporting the Family and Staff (Good Practice Paper No. 18)

Published: 7 February 2024

This paper provides operational guidance for all healthcare professionals in maternity services, and all other specialties supporting partners, families and staff following a maternal death, with the intention of making the process compassionate, consistent and straightforward for all those involved.

Maternal deaths have been defined as those occurring during and up to 1 year after the end of pregnancy, whether or not the death was anticipated, and regardless of where the death occurred.

The paper outlines the practical procedures that need to be followed, who should be contacted, who requires support and how this can be managed across the various settings in which a maternal death might occur. Trusts and health boards should use this guidance as the basis to draft their own standard operating procedure. 

While such events are fortunately rare, ensuring that staff know what to do will ensure that partners, families and colleagues are appropriately supported.

Version history

This is the first edition of this guidance. 

The review process will commence in 2027, unless otherwise indicated.

Developers’ declarations of interests

Available on request.