Hope in Grief: AMs unite to call for improved miscarriage and stillbirth services

(Title Image: Huffington Post)

Losing a baby is probably one of the toughest things any parent has to go through. Yesterday, AMs used Baby Loss Awareness week as an opportunity to discuss the issue.

The Motion

The Senedd:

  • Recognises that, in 2016, 263 infants died or were stillborn in Wales.
  • Recognises that all bereaved parents should receive the same high standard of care when a baby dies, and that while good care cannot remove parents’ pain and grief, it can help parents through this devastating time.
  • Calls on the Welsh Government to take action to improve the care that parents receive after pregnancy or baby loss by committing to improve bereavement care; adopting the core set of standards for bereavement care; work with NHS Wales to ensure staff who come into contact with bereaved parents receive bereavement training.

Not Rare

Lynne Neagle AM (Lab, Torfaen) began by saying miscarriage and stillbirth wasn’t a rare event; one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage and 15 babies die either just before, during or immediately after birth every day across the UK.

“The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists told us that its UK-wide survey of women who had experienced perinatal mental health problems found that some respondents who had experienced miscarriages and stillbirths did not feel there’d been enough support following these events or in subsequent pregnancies.”
– Lynne Neagle AM

A number of committees have made recommendations regarding peri-natal mental health and support for recently-bereaved parents; Lynne added, “The quality of care for bereaved parents shouldn’t be a lottery”.

“This tragedy is not going to define my whole life”

These backbench members debates are often poorly attended and you’re unlikely to even know they exist beyond this site. Yet they often produce the highest quality and most heartfelt contributions from AMs, certainly making it worth my time to write them up and worth their time to contribute.

Yesterday was no exception.

Dr Dai Lloyd AM (Plaid, South Wales West) reflects movingly on the loss of his son, Huw, just 40 minutes after he was born in 1985. Writing about it wouldn’t do it justice:

 

Jayne Bryant AM (Lab, Newport West) said that while the loss of a baby will never go away, it was important “for mothers and fathers to have time to grieve and not feel they just have to carry on”. She called for Wales to follow Scotland and England in having minimum standards.

“Sadly, less than half of health boards provide mandatory bereavement care training for staff and those that do provide less than one hour of training each year. I’m pleased the Welsh Government accept that compassionate bereavement care and support is a key part of maternity services provision. However, this is not happening on the ground.”
– Caroline Jones AM (Ind, South Wales West)

Providing Support

Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething (Lab, Cardiff S. & Penarth) told AMs the Welsh Government were already working with health boards to improve services for newly-bereaved parents – partly the result of an inquiry from 2013 (more here).

He noted some good practice within the Welsh NHS:

“Members may remember Laura Wyatt, who is a midwife in Cardiff and Vale. She is a recent UK midwife of the year in the Royal College of Midwives Awards, and that award came on the back of her nomination by bereaved parents….to recognise the difference that her work made.”
– Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething

He hoped the debate would “break the silence and start conversations”, paying tribute to Dai Lloyd’s bravery in opening up about his own experiences.

The motion was unanimously agreed.

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