Hundreds of babies are dying unnecessarily because overstretched maternity services are delivering substandard care and struggling to overcome entrenched poverty and racial inequalities, a report has warned.
The report by baby loss charities Sands and Tommy’s says the government’s aim to halve the number of stillbirths and neonatal deaths in England by 2025 is stalling, while there is no target in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Stillbirths are creeping up in England after falling in the past decade. Babies dying before and during delivery rose to just over four in every 1,000 births in 2021. Similarly, long-falling rates of neonatal deaths, where newborns die within the first four weeks of birth, are also rising. There were 1.4 deaths of newborn babies for every 1,000 births in 2021, compared with 1.3 in 2020.
Robert Wilson, head of the charities’ joint policy unit, said the government and NHS need to make fundamental changes. “The UK is not making enough progress to reduce rates of pregnancy loss and baby death, and there are worrying signs that these rates are now heading in the wrong direction,” he said.
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Source: The Guardian, 14 May 2023