Sands stillbirth and neonatal charity have released data from the Office of National Statistics that says British women are more likely to give birth to a dead baby than women in Poland, Croatia or Estonia.
The figures based on data from 2014, published by The Sunday Times, show that there were 3,654 stillbirths – a rate of 4.6 per 1,000 births. This is almost double the amount that the international health body reported in the Lancet in November 2015.
The reason for this discrepancy in the figures is still unclear.
The Guardian reported that separate research published in the Lancet medical journal, found that the number of stillbirths in the UK have fallen by 1.8% since 2000. However, in the same period of time stillbirths in Poland have fallen by 3.5% and by 6.8% in the Netherlands
The Royal College of Midwives warned in October 2015 that maternity care was a “time bomb”. This is a result of more babies being born, mother’s being older, and many midwives reaching retirement age.
2014 is believed to be the first year on record when the NHS employed more than a thousand midwives in their 60s. The number of midwives aged 65 or over rose to 177 in 2015, from eight in 2001.
In its 2015 ‘state of maternity services’ report, Royal College of Midwives said that the NHS was short of about 2,600 midwives – a situation being made worse by the ageing workforce.
Charlotte Bevan, of Sands, told the Sunday Times: “Our progress is way behind countries like the Netherlands, who are moving four times faster than we are to save lives.”
“It’s devastating for families not just to think that their child might have lived if only they’d received the right care, but also to know that another child tomorrow will die in similar circumstances because units aren’t implementing guidance.”
She added: “We know 60% of babies who die before they are born and close to their due dates might have been saved if basic guidelines in antenatal care were followed. We have much of the information we need to save up to 600 lives every year.”
Ministers pledged to drop the rate of stillbirths, neonatal deaths, maternal deaths and brain injuries caused during, or soon after, labour by 50 per cent by 2030, after the UK was ranked 33rd out of 35 in the international league table published in the Lancet in November.
A Department of Health spokesman told The Daily Mail ‘progress has been made’ but said the rate was ‘still far too high’.
He added: “We want the NHS to be the safest place in the world to have a baby and our ambition is to halve stillbirths through a campaign launched by the Health Secretary, because we want to ensure fewer families go through this heartache.”