The government announces targets for the reduction of stillbirth and neonatal death…

Today Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State, launched a drive to halve stillbirths and infant deaths.

by Jane Brewin, Tommy's CEO

At present, England’s outcomes in terms of stillbirths lag behind much of the developed world. We are delighted that this Government is determined to improve outcomes so that far fewer families suffer.

The Government has pledged to work with top consultants, midwives and other experts such as Tommy’s to make sure we identify and apply the very best practice consistently across the NHS. 

Over time this initiative is expected to save hundreds of millions of pounds in the costs of caring for injured children and providing compensation, money that can be re-invested in improved front-line services. 

The Minister chose to make his announcements at a Tommy’s research centre in St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

Tommy’s has been pioneering the reduction of stillbirth with the research and clinical work carried out at all three of our research centres across the UK. 

Tommy’s is proud that stillbirth is reducing around our research centres. At our Manchester research centre, stillbirth has been reduced by 22% and we have seen significant reductions in Scotland following the introduction of a new process to help mums recognise signs that their baby isn’t well. 

We know that up to 1,000 deaths a year could be prevented if the learnings of the Tommy’s research centres are turned into treatments that are offered, consistently and well, across the NHS.

We know that to make further improvements we have to carry on investing in research to understand why stillbirth occurs. We need to develop screening tests to identify mums who are at risk and find effective treatments. 

We have a real opportunity to make a significant impact on stillbirth in the UK but we need to remember that pre-term birth also affects up to 55,000 families each year and miscarriage affects 1 in 4 of all families – let’s hope the government goes on from here to make those targets for reduction too. 

We will be continuing to make that point to ministers over the coming months, but today is still a good day.