The Department of Health has announced the hospitals that would receive a share of government funding to ‘invest in new maternity safety equipment’.
The published list of recipients and awards provides further details.
Every penny invested in preventing stillbirths must be welcomed – but it would be naive to think that this is anywhere near sufficient to make a material impact.
Whilst the sum of money (£2.24m) might sound impressive, it is a drop in the ocean relative to the overall maternity budget – less than 0.01%. With the annual cost of negligence in maternity services running at £400m, a much more substantive investment would yield much higher return and have much greater impact.
If we make the conservative assumption that capital would only be employed for two years, then it is equivalent to less than £1.50 per pregnancy. And with the size of awards varying, and 40% of trusts receiving nothing at all, it only reinforces the stillbirth postcode lottery.
The most encouraging thing is actually the safety projects that various hospitals have ongoing. There are certainly a few dubiously named projects in there that appear to have missed the brief (“Against all odds – striving for normality in high risk women”? “Increasing normality birth rate through telemetry”?). But more importantly, there appears to be initiatives covering GAP, electronic CTG monitoring, improving detection of growth restriction, doppler, and other safety improvement plans.