The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has published a new Good Practice Paper to provide operational guidance for healthcare professionals in maternity services, and other specialities supporting partners and families following a maternal death.
In the UK, maternal deaths fortunately happen rarely (10.1 per 100,000 maternities in 2019–2021). This means that hospital staff, particularly in maternity services, may be unfamiliar with the critical operational and pastoral processes that should be followed when a death tragically does occur.
The paper has been developed to clearly set out the procedures that should be followed, including who should be contacted, who requires support and how this can be managed across the various settings in which a maternal death might occur. The College advises NHS hospital trusts and health boards to use this guidance as the basis to draft their own local protocols.
Mrs Geeta Kumar, Vice President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “A maternal death is truly a tragedy. The RCOG has developed this Good Practice Paper to support the health care professionals by providing clear and consistent guidance to follow when a maternal death does happen. Providing this clarity for staff will help ensure that partners, families and colleagues receive the best support at an incredibly difficult time.”
Jane Plumb, Chair of the RCOG Women’s Network, said: “Every maternal death is a devastating loss for the partner and their family, but it also impacts the health professionals who cared for her. This paper provides clear guidance on how to respond to such a tragic event with sensitivity and respect, and to ensure that everyone involved in a maternal death receives the support they need. I’m pleased that this document has been developed with input from those who have been affected by maternal death, and I am certain it will improve policy, practice and, importantly, the experiences of both families and the health professionals involved.”