Thank you for emailing me about baby loss and parental bereavement.
This issue affects many people, and I offer my sympathy to those who have suffered miscarriages, stillbirths, or the loss of a child throughout their lives. I applaud my colleagues who have recounted this difficult experience in their lives in Parliament to raise awareness of baby loss and inspire changes in policy to reduce the number of stillbirths in the UK, which is higher than in other similar countries.
One of the key commitments in the NHS Long Term Plan published in 2019 is to make the NHS one of the safest places in the world to give birth. I know that the Department of Health and Social Care has set out a range of new measures to deliver its ambition to halve the rates of stillbirths, neonatal deaths and brain injuries that occur during or soon after labour, and maternal deaths by 2025, through the Saving Babies' Lives care bundle, an updated version of which was implemented in March last year.
I warmly welcome £2.45 million of new funding which will benefit NHS maternity staff and improve the safety of the women and babies they care for. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has been awarded almost £2 million to lead the first phase of the Avoiding Brain injuries in Childbirth (ABC) collaboration and £450,000 to develop a new workforce planning tool to improve how maternity units calculate their medical staffing requirements, to better support families and babies.
I firmly agree that all parents who experience pregnancy and baby loss and would like specialist psychological support should be able to access it. In view of this, I particularly welcome the commitment through the NHS Long Term Plan to increase mental health support funding by £2.3bn per year by 2023/24. As part of this I know that care provided by specialist perinatal mental health services will be available from preconception to 24 months after birth.
I am encouraged by the Government’s collaboration with charities, such as Sands, Bliss, Tommy’s and others, to raise awareness of the preventative measures and to support people experiencing baby loss.
I know that this is going to be discussed in Westminster Hall on Tuesday 20 July and welcome the opportunity to hear more about the Government's progress towards maternity safety goals. I am unfortunately unable to attend the debate but I will seek an update following the debate.
Thank you again for contacting me.