UK baby charities warn vital services for women and families at risk of closure

Tommy’s and other charities working to support parents and families and to save babies’ lives during the COVID-19 outbreak are warning that their vital services will soon cease to exist without urgent financial support from the Government.

Pregnancy and Baby Charities Network

15 April 2020

Tommy’s and other charities working to support parents and families and to save babies’ lives during the COVID-19 outbreak are warning that their vital services will soon cease to exist without urgent financial support from the Government.

Without financial support there is a high likelihood that charities will be forced to cut services to around a million expectant mothers, new families and people affected by pregnancy and baby loss. These cuts will come at a time of unprecedented demand, with more than two thirds of those same charities expecting demand for their services to increase dramatically in the coming months. 

The Pregnancy and Baby Charities Network is now calling on Government and NHS England to ensure that its members benefit from the £750m package announced by the Chancellor last week to keep struggling charities afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

A survey by the Network of its members found that 74% of charities providing direct support to women and families expect to cut those front-line services in the coming months.

The COVID-19 outbreak is affecting families across the UK who need the support of pregnancy and baby charities more than ever, due to increased isolation and fear and the unprecedented pressure on the NHS, which needs to focus on caring for those suffering from the effects of coronavirus.

The Government money would make a crucial difference to charities that support the Maternity Transformation Programme and the National Ambition to reduce baby deaths by half and preterm births by a quarter. Equally, it would be a lifeline for charities providing information and support for people whose physical and mental health are impacted by reductions and restrictions in maternity services.

Chair of the Pregnancy and Baby Charities Network, Keith Reed, said: “The package of support announced by the Chancellor is welcome but we are yet to see any details of how it will be allocated. Our charities are plugging the gaps in care for women who are giving birth during the outbreak, saving babies lives now, and stepping up to support families and NHS workers when a baby dies.

“Many of the charities that the NHS relies upon to deliver support to families have already begun cutting frontline services because of their perilous financial positions. This is having a detrimental impact on families across the antenatal and postnatal period including those with babies in neonatal care. This situation is likely to get significantly worse in the coming days.

“All the charities are acutely aware of the central role they need to play in supporting families as NHS services respond to the current national emergency. All stand ready to deliver but many are being forced to withdraw support for families due to financial challenges. This situation will only get worse without Government intervention.

“We need a suitable package of support in days not weeks, so that we can continue to contribute to the response preventing parents from accessing acute care at a time of strain in the National Health Service and provide specialist services to parents.”

Many of the Pregnancy and Baby Charities Network members have specific information for women, families and health professionals affected by COVID-19.

Tommy’s is here to support anyone affected by baby loss and our Pregnancy Hub is being updated with all the latest information on coronavirus for parents-to-be.

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