Researchers have estimated that approximately 500 babies die each year due to avoidable factors during birth. Many more are also left permanently brain damaged or disabled. Research has shown that the majority these tragic deaths and injuries could be avoided with better care.
The overarching aims of the campaign are as follows:
1. To raise awareness of the high incidence of birth injury and stillbirth within the UK
2. To campaign for improvements in the safety of maternity services within the UK
3. To campaign for Coroner involvement in certain stillbirths to highlight substandard care
4. To campaign for Birth Certificates for all babies registered as stillborn
5. To provide information to those who have suffered poor care and negligence in childbirth
The Campaign has a Facebook page which can be accessed here
Michelle and Nicky are parent representatives on various national & regional projects and committees including:
- RCOG Each Baby Counts
- NHS England Maternity Transformation Programme Stakeholder Council
- Maternity and Neonatal Health Safety Collaborative
- NHS Improvement Reducing Asphyxia
- Regional Maternity Clinical Network
The law relating to Coroners:
At present it is not within the Coroners legal jurisdiction to investigate stillbirths, even if they happen at term and negligence is suspected. This stops Coroners from becoming involved even if they have serious concerns about a death or about the care being given in a particular unit. The Campaign for Safer Births has made contact with all Senior Coroners to explain and promote the need for Coroner involvement in stillbirths that happen in term labour. They have the support of many Coroners and have also met with the Chief Coroner and the previous Secretary of State for Justice.
After hearing about this issue Tim Loughton included giving Coroners the power to investigate stillborn deaths in his Private Members Bill.
The Bill received good cross-party support, including from the Government as the Health Secretary announced the governments support for this change in the law in November 2017 the – ‘Safer Maternity Care – November 2017′.
We would also like to thank The Times for their support – the Campaign has featured in the following articles: ‘The truth about Britain’s stillbirth scandal’, ‘Mothers fight for Coroners’ investigations into stillbirths’, ‘Minister calls for inquests on stillbirths’ and ‘Outdated laws around stillbirth prevent coroners holding hospitals to account’
The Bill received Royal Assent in March 2019 following its passage through both Houses. The Bill stated that ‘The Secretary of State must make arrangements for the preparation of a report on whether, and if so how, the law ought to be changed to enable or require coroners to investigate still-births.’ The Bill had a clause to enable the law to be changed following production of the report.
On Tuesday 26th March 2019 the Government launched a Consultation on the proposed change to allow Coroner jurisdiction for Stillbirth. The Consultation can be found here. We would like to encourage as many people as possible to give their views. The Consultation runs until 18th June 2019.
Please also visit our page ‘Support Us‘ to help. Many thanks!
Other achievements to date:
Prior to starting the Campaign for Safer Births both Nicky and Michelle had campaigned individually. Michelle is a campaigning voice for Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death charity) and went to the Houses of Parliament as part of a Sands presentation. Michelle has been interviewed by The Independent on Sunday, Radio 4 Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio Northampton, BBC Look East and others on the subject of midwife numbers and birth certificates for stillborn babies.
Nicky was in correspondence with the Dept of Health about improving labour ward staffing levels and also querying Coroners rules. Nicky has also presented at a number of NHS training events about the experience of being a parent of a child with significant health needs and palliative care.
Since being introduced and starting the Campaign for Safer Births in early 2013 Michelle and Nicky have set up a Facebook page to build awareness and support. They have also been in regular contact with the Dept of Health, NHS England, local MP’s, local Clinical Commissioning Groups and the Chief Coroner.
Michelle was featured in a Sunday Times article ‘If only he’d been born in the daytime’ – supporting the Sunday Times campaign for increased Consultant presence. Michelle also gave a powerful interview about her experience on BBC Radio 4 World at One. Michelle appeared in the documentary film ‘Stilloved’ and in January 2016 featured in the Times article ‘The truth about Britain’s stillbirth scandal’. Michelle has been working closely with Chris Heaton Harris MP on the issue of inquests for term babies that are stillborn during labour.
Nicky has been involved in projects within her local region reviewing and improving local maternity services and data reporting. Nicky has been a patient representative on three projects run by the Cheshire & Merseyside (now North West Coast) Clinical Network for Maternity. Nicky was also a patient representative on the NHS England Women’s Patient Safety Group which met quarterly and included representatives from the Royal Colleges, CQC, NHS Litigation Authority and others.
Campaign for Safer Births have also joined forces with some other charities and parents to form ‘Maternity Outcomes Matter‘ to work together for improvements.
In the relatively short time the campaign has been running Nicky and Michelle have been able to draw attention to the issues within maternity care and have already influenced change. They have also given help and guidance to many families who have contacted them via the Facebook site.
Please see the page ‘How you can support us’ to help the campaign.