First Women's Health Strategy released

The UK Government has released its first Women’s Health Strategy for England today, outlining reforms to women’s healthcare. Despite previous commitments from the Government, the strategy does not commit to providing a formal record of miscarriage.

Today, the Government published its first Women’s Health Strategy for England with the aim of changing the health and care system to improve the health and wellbeing of women.  

The strategy comes after a call for evidence in March 2021, which generated almost 100,000 responses from people across the UK including Olivia Blake MP. On 17 June 2021, she raised the findings from our Miscarriage Matters research series, outlining the prevalence and impact of miscarriage, at an Adjournment Debate in Parliament. 

The Lancet Series, published by our National Centre for Miscarriage Research, laid bare the need for urgent reform of care and treatment and set out key recommendations:

  • Miscarriages must be officially recorded so the rate of miscarriage can be measured nationally 
  • Access to miscarriage must be available with a clear pathway for follow-up mental health support 
  • Tests and treatments must be standardised across the UK through a ‘graded approach’ to recurrent miscarriage 
  • Specific, personalised care pathways should be established for high-risk women 
  • A clear pathway for preconception support and guidance must be put in place

Since 2021, more than 254,000 people have signed our petition campaigning for the Government to include our recommendations in the Women’s Health Strategy, so families are given the support they need and deserve.  

A key focus of our campaign has been calling for data on the number of miscarriages to be made available along with stillbirth and preterm birth rates. We currently have no understanding of the true scale of miscarriage in the UK – and without robust data, we can’t know whether rates of loss are rising or falling, or tell if the support being put in place to prevent loss is working.  

The issue is one of technology - currently many healthcare settings record when miscarriages take place but there is not a standardised approach to doing this, and neither is there a process to bring together the data collected centrally.

Despite previous commitments from the Government, the Women's Health Strategy does not commit to providing a formal record of miscarriage.

It does include a commitment to providing pregnancy loss certificates to families who lose babies before 24 weeks.

Under the current system families must experience three miscarriages before they are any offered support or testing, and the support available can vary considerably depending on where they live. The Government has not included specific commitments on miscarriage in the Women’s Health Strategy but has committed to give further consideration to the findings of the Lancet review and to explore further measures through the forthcoming Pregnancy Loss Review.  

Kath Abrahams, Chief Executive of Tommy’s says:

“We welcome the commitment in the review to give further consideration to the Lancet series findings and to encourage NHS services to implement new guidelines on recurrent miscarriage, but we are very disappointed at the lack of specific commitments around miscarriage care within the strategy itself.” 

“It’s vital that we understand the true scale of miscarriage in the UK. Without robust data we cannot set meaningful targets for reducing the number of miscarriages or tell if the support being put in place to prevent loss is working.”

“Pregnancy loss certificates are an optional process meant to provide vital emotional solace and acknowledgment for grieving parents. Although very important, they are in no way a substitute for official recording of miscarriage data by health services.”

“We will continue to call on the Government and work with colleagues on the frontline to make the changes to miscarriage care which are still so desperately needed.”

“Through our Joint Policy Unit with Sands we are committed to working with Government to secure policy change that will reduce rates of miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-term birth and neonatal death, and to eliminate inequalities in these outcomes”