#TogetherWeCan - launching Tommy’s new strategy

Our CEO Kath Abrahams introduces the Tommy’s Strategy.

Right now, in the UK, 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss during pregnancy or birth and 53,000 babies are born early every year. Tommy’s is here to change that.  

From a campaign that began 30 years ago with 2 obstetricians working from a spare cupboard in St Thomas’s Hospital, we’ve become the largest UK charity researching the causes and prevention of pregnancy complications, miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. 

We would not have been able to help many thousands of parents and families without the amazing work of our founders and early colleagues, and we’re hugely indebted to those that have come before us. 

Our mission has always been to make the UK the safest place in the world to give birth for women, birthing people and their families. 

In 1997 we founded the UK’s first ever pregnancy research centre at St Thomas’s, focusing on pre-eclampsia and premature birth. In 2001 we opened our Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre in Manchester, dedicated to understanding why stillbirth happens and how risk can be reduced.  

In the 6 short years since our National Centre for Miscarriage Research was founded, the advances our researchers have made in improving understanding and developing treatments to reduce the risk of miscarriage have the potential to be game-changing.   

And in 2019 we formed the Tommy’s National Centre for Maternity Improvement in partnership with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives with the aim of finding new ways to take research breakthroughs into improvements in care which reduce the number of babies who are stillborn or born prematurely.  

Alongside our research, for more than 20 years our incredible team of midwives have been there for parents  – they’ve helped many thousands of people with the expert information, advice and reassurance they need. Millions more around the world visit our website each year to seek out research-backed information and tools to help them on their pregnancy journey. 

We’ve made huge progress.

We’ve found new treatments and tests that have transformed families’ lives. We’ve shaped national healthcare guidelines and broken some of the silence surrounding baby loss.  

But there is still so much more to be done.  

There is still so much we don’t understand about why things sometimes go wrong in pregnancy and why some babies sadly die, and more research is desperately needed. 

Whether or not you get access to good care can be a postcode lottery; there are appalling disparities in maternal deaths which see Black and Black Mixed Heritage women at unacceptable risk; and women and birthing people from minoritised ethnic communities and deprived backgrounds remain much more likely to experience pregnancy complications and baby loss.  

And despite wonderful work by so many people on the frontline to support people to have a good and safe birth, our maternity services are overstretched and affecting the ability to deliver safe care. 

In Tommy’s 30th year, and amidst these headlines, we’ve taken the time to talk to people across our community and ask them: How can we change this situation? How can Tommy’s make the biggest impact possible and save more babies’ lives in the future? 

The result is the launch of a new strategy

This strategy will guide every aspect of our work for the next 10 years. 

We believe it is inclusive, it’s designed to be courageous, and it defines who we are as an organisation.  

This is a strategy that has been shaped by many, including, first and foremost, our amazing supporters. 

The passion of our community can’t be understated. Nothing that we have done in the past 30 years, and nothing we can achieve in future, would be possible without the incredible fundraisers, awareness-raisers and advocates who drive us forward. You’ve told us what Tommy’s means to you and what you need us to achieve in future.  

We’ve also had countless discussions with researchers, clinical practitioners, people within key networks – many we have worked with before, and others we have not - and partner organisations. We’ve had vital input from our Trustees and from Tommy's colleagues in every part of the organisation.  

In order to be fully representative and best reflect the needs of those most affected by disparities, it was clear we had to listen. The voices of those who are most likely to experience the poorest pregnancy outcomes must be heard. We’re so thankful to those who lent their expertise, and to our user groups of women and birthing people from marginalised communities, and from minoritised ethnic and mixed heritage backgrounds, who gave their time generously. Your insight and honesty have been transformative. 

Together, we’ve identified 4 key goals that will underpin our new direction for the years ahead:  

  • Grow evidence, because baby loss and pregnancy complications aren’t ‘just one of those things’.  

  • Improve care, because everyone should be provided with the best care and support.  

  • Tackle inequities, because everyone deserves the same opportunities for a healthy pregnancy and birth.  

  • Mobilise for change, because together, we will make pregnancy safer and save babies’ lives.  

It is thanks to every single member of our community that we’ve come this far, and only by working together that we can reach these goals. 

As Tommy’s Chief Executive, I’m asking you to join us on the next stage of our journey as we work to stop the heartbreak and devastation of baby loss and make pregnancy and birth safe – for everyone. 

Read the Tommy's Strategy online

Read the Tommy's Strategy as a PDF