The death of a baby is a devastating experience. I sympathise profoundly with anyone who is affected and I know that the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions have exacerbated what is already an incredibly difficult time. It is essential, particularly now, that families receive the best care and support.
I pay tribute to members of the Baby Loss Awareness Alliance, including the charity Stillbirth and Neonatal Death (Sands), who work together to drive through change and improvements in bereavement care on a national basis.
Sands is raising awareness of the support, online resources and training it has made available to all healthcare professionals. The additional pressures brought by the pandemic are having a profound impact on staff and I am immensely grateful for their extraordinary efforts. I welcome the support that Sands is offering to healthcare professionals who care for bereaved families.
As you are aware, changes in visiting rules due to COVID-19 have left some women enduring difficult labours or, tragically, baby loss alone without the support they may have otherwise had. A significant issue identified by parents is the exclusion of partners from appointments and scans. This has left some women receiving bad news or having to make difficult decisions alone.
NHS England recently published guidance with the aim of reintroducing birth partners and visitors in birth settings. The guidance emphasises that NHS trusts should tailor their policies to their local situation and be innovative in the way visiting is reintroduced.