'Caseload midwifery' - a positive step to reduce stillbirths

9th May 2019 Clinical Negligence

International Day of the Midwife fell on 5 May 2019 this year, which coincided with the announcement that all expectant mothers are to be given the same midwife throughout their pregnancy, in a £40 million NHS promise.

Currently it is not uncommon for a woman to see a different midwife at all or some of her antenatal consultations, and then a further new member of staff at the birth. This lack of continuity of carer no doubt increases the risk of vital information being missed or not passed on and misunderstandings relating to care occurring over the lengthy period of time that care is provided.

In contrast, it is suggested that “caseload midwifery„, where a named midwife is responsible for each women’s care, would encourage a trusting relationship and improve levels of communication.

It is hoped that by March next year over one third of women will benefit from this initiative, with those with complex care needs being prioritised; the overriding aim being to reduce stillbirths, miscarriages and neonatal deaths. It is claimed that the new funding will be used to reduce the rates of stillbirth, neonatal death, maternal death and brain injury during birth by 20 per cent by the end of 2020/21, and 50 per cent by 2025.

Our medical negligence team at JMW experience first-hand the devastating impact that stillbirths have, with psychological illnesses such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder being prevalent in women who have experienced a stillbirth.

In the UK, 1 in every 225 births ends in a stillbirth. Whilst some of these remain unavoidable, we deal with cases where lack of monitoring, communication and other avoidable errors have resulted in stillbirths. It is hoped that in time it will become commonplace for women to be seen by the same midwife throughout their pregnancy and birth and ultimately go some way to reduce the rate of unavoidable stillbirths within the UK.

In this video our clients Adam and Hayley Powsney tell their story of a devastating and avoidable stillbirth and how JMW played a role in helping them to rebuild their lives.

One of JMW’s charities of the year, Tommy’s, provides support to families who have experienced a stillbirth, miscarriage or neonatal death. For further information visit https://www.tommys.org/.

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Naomi O'Rourke is a Trainee Solicitorlocated in Manchesterin our Trainee Solicitors department

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