The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has launched an initiative called “Each Baby Counts” as part of a five year plan to halve the number of stillbirths, new born deaths and baby brain injuries in the UK. This will collect and analyse hospital data to try to improve future care surrounding a woman’s labour.
Each year in the UK there are around 4,000 stillbirths and roughly 40,000 miscarriages that result in hospital admission. Up to 500 babies a year die due to complications during a woman’s labour and more are severely disabled.
Professor Alan Cameron, RCOG vice-president for clinical equality, said: “We will monitor where these incidents occur and why. Sharing these sensitive data will provide us all with a unique opportunity to improve the care we provide and save lives. The aim of this initiative is to learn from ongoing mistakes.”
Dr Hilary Cass, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said that, as well as errors made during labour, a number of avoidable deaths were linked to factors such as smoking during pregnancy. “Many neonatal deaths are strongly influenced by pre-term delivery and low birth weights, which are factors commonly linked to lifestyle choices that mothers making during pregnancy.”
Natalie Churney, associate in the Penningtons Manches clinical negligence team, states: “We regularly deal with cases involving injuries at birth. I have worked on numerous cases involving problems that could have been avoided such as babies being starved from oxygen during labour. This not only has drastic consequences on a child’s life such as a life-long brain injury as well as fatality but also has life-changing effects on women and their families.
“It is imperative that avoidable factors are identified; lessons are learned to avoid recurrent mistakes; and any actions taken as a result of this initiative are implemented across the whole country.”