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June is SANDS Awareness Month, an annual campaign organised by the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity (SANDS) to raise awareness of the impact of neonatal deaths and stillbirths on families’ lives and to improve care and support for anyone affected by the death of a baby.

The loss of a child in pregnancy or childbirth is a devastating experience for any parent and one which stays with them for life. The sad reality is that 15 babies die before, during or shortly after their birth in the UK every single day. That is 15 babies too many.

Coping With Stillbirth And Neonatal Death

Dealing with bereavement following the death of a baby is one of the most difficult parts of the job for many healthcare professionals. COVID-19 has magnified this with significant impacts on both bereaved parents and NHS staff.

The experience of a stillbirth or neonatal death is life-changing for families and excellent care is crucial to their long term well-being. When NHS staff are well-supported, families are well-supported. With this in mind, SANDS’ #FindingTheWords 2020 campaign aims to offer help and empower more NHS frontline workers with access to support, online resources and training.

SANDS’ 2020 commitments include work on implementing a National Bereavement Care Pathway to make sure that every parent receives equally excellent bereavement care and to ensure a high quality review of care is carried out, in partnership with parents, after every baby’s death.

What Is Stillbirth?

A stillbirth is when a baby is born dead after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy. According to the NHS, it happens in around 1 in every 200 births in England. If the baby dies before 24 completed weeks, it is known as a miscarriage.

What Causes Stillbirth?

Some stillbirths are linked to complications with the placenta, a birth defect or with the mother’s health. Unfortunately, medical negligence can be a factor if some of the common causes could have been prevented or treated earlier.

What Is Neonatal Death?

A neonatal death occurs if a baby dies within 28 days after their birth.

What Causes Neonatal Death?

Most neonatal deaths are often linked to premature birth because when babies are born too small they are at more risk of infection and other serious health issues. However, there are other potential causes, including genetic disorders, infections, complications during or after birth and medical negligence.

Breaking The Taboo

A ‘review of care’ may raise more questions than answers and it is important for families to be aware that there are other avenues they can explore, including a potential medical negligence claim.

Examples of medical negligence that may cause or contribute to stillbirth or neonatal death include:

  • Healthcare staff failing to monitor the baby adequately
  • An untreated or undiagnosed infection
  • Failing to act on a mother’s concerns about lack of foetal movement
  • Not detecting a placental abruption
  • A delay in treatment
  • Failing to follow up on test results

Pursuing a medical negligence claim should not be viewed as ‘pointing the finger’ but rather, as another mechanism to try and obtain answers as to what happened and why, so that valuable lessons may be learned. It’s important to try and break the taboo not only in respect of stillbirth or neonatal death but also in respect of medical negligence claims.

Expert Legal View

Hannah Carr, specialist medical negligence solicitor from our Salisbury office said:

“SANDS highlight the fact that very sadly, the rate of reduction in stillbirths in the UK is up to three times slower than other European countries and neonatal deaths have actually risen slightly in the last two years .

“Many families want to find the answers that might have been denied them at the time of their ordeal and to try to achieve some action to ensure that no parents suffer the same loss in the future.”

“The legal investigation in respect of a medical negligence claim can provide much sought after answers, hopefully bring some closure and help bereaved parents come to terms with what has happened at the very least.”

How To Make A Medical Negligence Claim

To make a medical negligence claim, it is important to speak to a specialist medical negligence solicitor as soon as possible.

At Novum Law, we understand how difficult it can be to re-live such a traumatic event, which is why our team of medical negligence solicitors with experience in stillbirth and neonatal death claims will listen to what happened to you and provide clear and compassionate expert legal advice on whether you have grounds for a successful claim. We will also help you access the very best professional support for your family.

We offer a free, initial no-obligation chat and provide No Win No Fee claims, which means there are no hidden costs or extra charges.

To find out more about making a medical negligence claim with Novum Law, call us on Freephone 0800 884 0777 or email info@novumlaw.com.

*sands.org.uk/15-initiatives-reduce-baby-deaths