Norwich hospital takes action following stillbirths review

A Norwich hospital says is it revising clinical guidelines and training, as well as considering introducing a new test and day assessment unit, following a review into stillbirths.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital had 35 stillbirths in 2011, a rise from 21 the year before, and while this still did not put the hospital above the national average for the rate of stillbirths, it decided to call in some expert help as an extra precaution.

Members of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists conducted an external review in January and made recommendations regarding improving documentation processes, departmental changes in role, standardising guidelines and revising training.

The obstetric department says it is now considering the introduction of foetal fibronectin testing for pre-term labour. Testing for the presence of fibronectin can be used as part of the assessment of whether a woman has entered pre-term (or premature) labour.

It is revising some local clinical guidelines, with greater electronic access to guidelines, and making changes to its current clinical training programme.

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It is also redistributing some responsibilities within the department and is considering creating a day assessment unit.

The stillbirth rate has since reduced and is currently at 3 per thousand for 2012 so far for the N&N, where there are 6,200 babies born each year.

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The latest available national statistics indicate that there are between 3,150 and 3,686 stillbirths each year in England and Wales at a rate of 5.1 stillbirths per 1,000 births.

Chief executive Anna Dugdale said: 'Our stillbirth numbers have never been above the national average and have now fallen even further to three per thousand.

'We know that in over half of all stillbirths it is not possible to determine the underlying cause although it can be affected by a range of factors including congenital abnormality, smoking, obesity and problems with the placenta.

'We want to do everything we can to minimise the risks for families as part of our commitment to provide the best quality of care for our patients. Any stillbirth is a tragedy and our staff will continue to provide support to affected families.'

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