Hospital praised for reduction in Burnley stillbirths

Dr Jess Ford, Mr Martin Maher, Caroline Broome and Jennie Todd
Dr Jess Ford, Mr Martin Maher, Caroline Broome and Jennie Todd
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A lifesaving initiative by medical staff at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust has achieved a remarkable 20% reduction in stillbirths in just one year.

Consultant Obstetrician Mr Martin Maher and his colleagues at Burnley General Teaching Hospital’s Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre established the Placenta Clinic in January 2017 to reduce stillbirths by detecting and managing fetal growth restrictions caused by problems with the placenta.

Mr Maher

Mr Maher

And now a recent audit has shown the stillbirth rate at the Trust is at its lowest level for years and the Trust’s detection rate for fetal growth restriction has increased from around 50 to 98%.

Mr Maher said: “Careful surveillance helps consultants and midwives time a small baby’s delivery perfectly so that when they enter the world they are given the best opportunity to grow to be healthy happy babies.

“For every day the baby is in the womb, the chance of survival increases by 2% so timing and balance is really crucial here.”

East Lancashire Hospitals is currently one of only two Trusts in the North West to offer this service to high risk mothers. The clinic sees around 100 women a month, performing around 1,200 scans a year and this number is increasing.

Conventionally women stopped receiving scans at 36 weeks which meant a number of babies were left undiagnosed. However, problems with the placenta can occur at any point during pregnancy and so now, women at risk are monitored closely.

The Placenta Clinic has received funding for two midwives to train to perform scans which will detect women with placenta problems. One of these midwives sonographers is already in post.

“Previously women would have had to travel to Manchester and some would even face the devastating reality of losing their little one.”

The achievement of Mr Maher and his Placenta Clinic colleagues was recognised in January when they were shortlisted for the national iNetwork Healthcare awards.