'We must work together to improve outcomes' says RCM on Saving Babies Lives report

By We must work together to improve outcomes says RCM on Saving Babies Lives report on 14 May 2024 Midwifery Midwives Student midwives MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Maternity Services Safety Maternity Safety RCM Member RCM

‘Improving maternity outcomes needs to be everyone’s business. The Government, healthcare leaders and all those working in maternity services need to work together to improve tragic outcomes’. That’s the message the from Royal College of Midwives (RCM) as it responds to the Saving Babies Lives progress report.

This report by Sands & Tommy’s joint policy unit looks at improving outcomes for babies in the neonatal period and has tragically highlighted the inequalities in pregnancy outcomes faced by Black, Asian and minority ethnic women.

Action is urgently needed, and systematic issues must addressed including improving listening to parents who raise concerns says RCM, who highlight learning lessons from preventable deaths is the key to changing poor and tragic outcomes.

Commenting, RCM’s Executive Director Midwife, Birte Harlev-Lam said:

“The message from this report is stark and clear – concerns are not always being taken seriously and this must urgently change. The death of any baby is tragedy, even more so if it could have been prevented. Sady none of the findings of this report are new and they underline what the RCM and our members have long been saying that staffing shortages drastically impact the safety and quality of care that can be delivered. Protected time for training, in particular multi-disciplinary training for maternity teams is crucial, so maternity staff can better respond to emergencies and mitigate safety risks. Far too often we are hearing of training being postponed due to staff shortages.”

The report also highlighted that black babies are twice as likely to be stillborn when compared to white babies. The stillbirth rate is also over double for babies born in deprived areas when compared to those born in the least deprived areas. Which the RCM says can only be truly tackled by a whole system wide approach to improve outcomes for those women who are disproportionately affected.

Birte added:

“These are truly shocking facts. Nationally, action is needed now with a multi-agency approach, to address the wider inequalities faced by Black, Asian and minority ethnic women and all those from disadvantaged backgrounds. There needs to be more joint working between clinicians, so any issues are picked up early. That is why the RCM launched a toolkit last year to support midwives and those in training to learn more about differences in health assessments, conditions and experiences for minority women and their babies. All maternity services must also actively learn from the diversity of the women in their care. We must continue to share good practice and work together to improve outcomes for women and their babies, we owe it to the those who have lost their babies in preventable deaths.”


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The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team.  We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance, and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences, and online resources. For more information visit the RCM | A professional organisation and trade union dedicated to serving the whole midwifery team