MPs debate baby loss in Commons as new campaign is launched

Steve Brine was in the House of Commons for what he said was one of the most moving debates he has attended on Thursday 13th October as MPs discussed baby loss.

The debate was called by Antoinette Sandbach MP and her Conservative colleague Will Quince MP, who both have personal experience of the tragedy, and heard a number of emotional stories from across the House, including a contribution from Labour MP Vicky Foxcroft, who told Parliament about her late daughter Veronica.

Health Minister Philip Dunne told the House that he had been humbled at the bravery and courage of colleagues in speaking up, and that the NHS was working to tackle the way the issue can sometimes be handled insensitively with parents. He also outlined government plans to tackle the unacceptably high number of stillbirths in the UK, aiming to reduce incidences by 20% by 2020.

Steve Brine said: "This was one of the most moving debates I suspect the Commons has seen in a long time, and I can only pay tribute to my colleagues from across the House for sharing their very personal tragedies with us. That is never easy.

"We need to face up to the fact that as a society we often simply don't talk about the issue, and there are a number of reasons behind that. Often friends do not want to broach the subject, and often parents don't feel that other people want to hear about their extreme grief, or would even be able to comprehend. There are other issues too, around the wait for bereavement counselling, and the very real fact that this can affect mums and dads in very different ways, as well as the effect on siblings, aunties and uncles.

"This is of course a hugely personal experience, and I have heard many examples of how parents often wrestle with the decision about whether to try and conceive again or not. As I said, I can only applaud my colleagues for securing and speaking in the debate, and I am very pleased to see how this has really been taken up by the media and has got people across society discussing and engaging in the topic."

The debate came just days before the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, announced on Tuesday 17th October a new campaign to give parents the knowledge and confidence to maximise their chances of healthy outcomes for themselves and their babies.

Our Chance has been developed with charities Best Beginnings and Sands, in partnership with the Department of Health, who all recognise that with timely diagnosis neonatal death and maternal death.

The campaign includes a range of short films featuring real-life stories from parents, healthcare professionals and Our Chance supporter Abbey Clancy. The films were developed in collaboration with royal colleges, other health charities and parents.

They films cover a range of maternity issues, including attending antenatal appointments, the importance of mental health and seeking help early, not smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy, being aware of symptoms such as itching or swelling which might point to potentially harmful conditions such as pre-eclampsia or intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, and being aware of reduced foetal movement.

Clea Harmer, Chief Executive at Sands said: "We are delighted to be jointly leading this ground-breaking project, which is the culmination of many years of work with the Department of Health. We're particularly excited about reaching younger people, to help them have a safer pregnancy whether they are planning on having a family now or in the future.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "The loss of any baby or new mum is a tragedy. We want any NHS hospital to be one of the safest places in the world to have a baby. By making sure women are aware of the small changes they can make or the signs to look out for, they can increase their chances of a healthy pregnancy.

"The new campaign is a game-changing moment and will help us halve the rates of stillbirths, neonatal deaths, maternal deaths and brain injuries occurring during or soon after birth by 2030."

Steve Brine has encouraged constituents to take a look at the Our Chance website and a useful Baby Buddy App designed to help.


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Our Chance

Baby Buddy App