I wish to inform the House of our progress in implementing the recommendations of the pregnancy loss review following Baby Loss Awareness Week last week.
The sensitive handling and storage of pregnancy loss remains—We have begun a review of the guidance on the sensitive handling of pregnancy remains and the Human Tissue Authority will make any necessary updates by March 2024. The Department of Health and Social Care is working to develop specifications for a bespoke receptacle to ensure foetal remains can be collected and stored with dignity by February 2024. Scoping work is also under way to map the provision of cold storage facilities to avoid needing to temporarily store pregnancy remains at home.
Recurrent miscarriage—The Tommy’s Miscarriage Centre at Birmingham Women and Children’s Hospital will be launching a three-month pilot to assess the effectiveness of a graded model of sporadic or recurrent miscarriage that brings forward support to before a third miscarriage. The results of the pilot will be considered in due course.
Bereavement care—NHS England will commence a compliance survey of the estates, including early pregnancy facilities, starting by spring 2024. NHS England will also review the “Health Building Note” for maternity care facilities to update best practice guidance on the design of new and existing facilities, including access to appropriate facilities for women and families who suffer bereavement at any stage of pregnancy.
Education, training, and information—The Department of Health and Social Care is working with stakeholders to develop new information resources, based on best practice examples, for primary and secondary healthcare settings, including a poster on “what to do if you have pain or bleeding during pregnancy”.
Early Pregnancy Assessment Units—Work with commissioners of NHS 111, ambulance services and trusts will look at the direct booking of appointments with early pregnancy assessment units so that patients with complications can be sent direct. A review of the current directory of services, which allows women to find their closest service, will ensure that local information is kept up to date.
Baby loss certificates—In July, I announced that we would be rolling out the baby loss certificate service in October. Following testing phases with over 1,000 families who have experienced pregnancy loss, I have commissioned an enhanced service specification to improve the application process and ensure the proper protection of this sensitive service, including strengthening the method of second parent verification. We are working at pace to put in place additional verification and the certificates will be available as soon as possible.
In addition to the progress being made, we have established a pregnancy loss ministerial oversight group, and the first meeting will take place this month to ensure actions are on track to progress work on the priority recommendations.
I will continue to update on our work, including on the remaining medium and long-term recommendations, via written ministerial statements.