Hospitals with high perinatal death rates told to examine their practices

The MBRRACE-UK perinatal mortality surveillance report has been published today

The authors of a report into stillbirth, neonatal and perinatal death rates in trusts and health boards in the UK have recommended that organisations with higher than average death rates review their practices. 

The first perinatal mortality surveillance report, examining deaths in 2013, has been published today. 

The MBRRACE-UK study led by a team at the University of Leicester follows their report earlier this year which reported that 15 babies die each day in the UK as a result of factors including congenital anomalies, problems with the placenta, complications after birth or during labour, extreme prematurity and infection. 

UK death rates of an average of 7.3 in 1,000 births are higher than in some other European countries. 

Today’s report found 21 trusts and boards with mortality rates which are more than 10% higher than the average in 2013 – some with more than 10 baby deaths per 1,000. 

It also found 53 hospitals with higher than average rates in the same period. 

The report's authors recommend that all 74 organisations involved review their practices.

Charlotte Bevan, senior research and prevention adviser at Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal baby death charity, said there was a huge variation around the country in stillbirth and neonatal death rates.

Ms Bevan said: ‘We know from the recent national confidential enquiry that 60% of babies who die before they are born and close to their due dates might have been saved if basic guidelines in antenatal care were followed. 

‘As if these failings of care were not bad enough, it appears units are not learning from these deaths. 

‘Only a small minority are being reviewed to understand what happened and whether the baby might have been saved with better care. 

‘This means that mistakes are likely to be repeated.’

The Department of Health has pledged to fund a review tool in conjunction with Sands so that all baby deaths are reviewed in a robust and standardised way. 

Sands are urging for this to be fast tracked.

In the case of still births, Sands recently criticised hospitals for failing to test two in three pregnant women at risk of developing diabetes; for failing to follow national screening guidance for growth in the case of two in three stillbirths; and for failing to correctly monitor babies' heartbeats in half of the cases where pregnant women reported they had slowed, changed or stopped.  

Read the report here

This is a free article for registered users

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this? You can register for free access.