Wednesday, 4 March 2009

More cash would save babies lives

Stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands claims in a report that out of the 17 babies who are stillborn or die shortly after birth each day a "significant percentage" could be saved.

It added maternity services are under "considerable strain from lack of resources".

It is investing £3 million in stillbirth research over the next five years and it is calling on the Government to match it.

The charity's Saving Babies' Lives Report 2009 called on the Government to consider baby deaths as a "major health issue" at national level.

It said: "The perception that stillbirths and early baby deaths are sad but inevitable events, that these babies were somehow 'meant to die', is far from the truth."

It added: "Although there are certainly cases of stillbirth where nothing could have been done, there is an increasing body of evidence and opinion that many of those lives could be saved.

"Maternity services in the UK are under considerable strain from lack of resources and funding and there is strong evidence to suggest that this is contributing to baby deaths.

"A serious lack of direct funding for scientific research to understand and prevent stillbirths is holding back progress that could be made in reducing the numbers of deaths."

A Sands survey of 270 bereaved parents found almost half (48 per cent) did not feel everything possible was done to save their baby's life.

A similar number (49 per cent) said they were not completely confident about the care they had received in the lead up to their baby's death and more than a third (36 per cent) said they felt rushed through their antenatal appointments.

Neal Long, chief executive of Sands, said: "For too long these deaths have been ignored and yet here is compelling evidence to suggest that many babies' lives could be saved with better antenatal care, increased funding for maternity services, more midwives and increased funding for research.

"We want to see action now to save babies' lives."

A Department for Health spokeswoman said: "We will continue to work to reduce stillbirths and neonatal deaths as well as improving outcomes for both mother and baby. We have placed safety and quality at the heart of our vision for maternity services.

"There are more staff than ever before with over 25,000 midwives and 1,500 consultant obstetricians and more investment is going in - last January we announced a further £330 million for the next three years.

"For the best health outcomes, it is important that women access maternity care at an early stage."

From Euronews 24

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