Political Parties’ Promising Perinatal Health Pledges: Win for PCBN

The four main political parties’ freshly published manifestos each includes commitments to reduce baby loss and increase neonatal care.

This is a wonderful result for the Pregnancy & Baby Charities Network (PCBN); a critical affiliation of UK baby loss charities, including Genesis Research Trust. The PCBN is a united voice for baby loss charities and serves as a single point of contact for the government. We helped create and shape the PCBN’s manifesto to influence all political parties, which outlines our aspirations to:

  1. Make this the safest country in the world in which to have a baby.
  2. Give women a maternity guarantee that their pregnancy and birth journey will be personalised and will meet their needs.
  3. Give sick and premature babies the best chance of survival and quality of life.
  4. Provide every family with the bereavement care they need after pregnancy or baby loss.

These PDFs provide a breakdown and background for these goals.

Here are the key commitments found in the main parties manifestos:

“Within the first three months of our new term, we will enshrine in law our fully funded, long-term NHS plan.*

We will treat mental health with the same urgency as physical health.

We will make the NHS the best place in the world to give birth through personalised, high-quality support. And we’ll uphold our commitment to extend healthy life expectancy by five years by 2035.”

(p. 11, Conservative Manifesto)

“Life expectancy is stalling and infant mortality rates are increasing, especially among those living in our most deprived communities.

A Labour government will target a reduction in health inequalities with a comprehensive children’s health strategy. We will introduce a Future Generations Well-being Act, enshrining health aims in all policies and a new duty for NHS agencies to collaborate with directors of public health.

We will increase mandated health visits, ensure new mothers can have access to breastfeeding support and introduce mental health assessments in a maternal health check six weeks after birth.

We will take actions to significantly reduce infant deaths and ensure families who lose a baby receive appropriate bereavement support as well as protections at work.”

(p. 34, Labour Manifesto)

“We want to make England the safest country to have a baby in, by improving our maternity care. This will entail reducing stillbirths, neonatal deaths, maternal deaths, brain injuries, sudden infant deaths and preterm births, so that we match the best performing countries in the world by 2025. To achieve this we would establish an expert maternity task force in every region of the country to work with services which are identified as performing poorly by the Care Quality Commission. We would give every family a single maternity health professional by 2025, so they have continuity of care throughout their pregnancy and birth, prioritising those with a higher risk of poor outcomes. We would give expecting families a personal budget and free guidance to enable access to pregnancy and new-born resources and services.”

(3.5.1, Policy Paper 137)

Introduce ‘baby boxes’ in England (p. 32, Liberal Democrat Manifesto)

Reducing Adverse Childhood experiences by investing further in services during pregnancy and the first two years of a child’s life. (p. 27, Ibid.)

“Improve access to high quality care during pregnancy and ensure that all women are entitled to the care of a single midwife through prenatal care, birth and the first month of post-natal care. Baby clinics will be expanded, so that women can get access to health visitors and take their babies for regular checkups at a location and time that is convenient for them.”

(p. 60, Green Party Manifesto)

You can help us sustain parliamentary support for these policies by asking your MP how their party plans to put them into action. Please let us know how they respond. This insight into MPs’ commitment will help PCBN work effectively with them. It’s easy to write to your MP via WriteToThem.com.

*N.B. The NHS Long Term Plan includes various initiative relating to baby loss reduction; e.g.
–  “By 2024, 75% of women from BAME communities and a similar percentage of women from the most deprived groups will receive continuity of care from their midwife throughout pregnancy, labour and the postnatal period. ” (2.28)
Improve maternal mortality (3.8)
– “We aim to roll out the [Saving Babies Lives Care Bundle] across every maternity unit in England in 2019 [and] ensure women with acute and chronic medical problems have timely access to specialist advice and care at all stages of pregnancy. And the Maternity Incentive Scheme will… reward the delivery of 10 key maternity safety actions through a Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST) rebate.” (3.10)
– “An expansion to the SBLCB will be published in 2019. This will include a focus on preventing pre-term birth.” “…[W]e will encourage development of specialist pre-term birth clinics across England.” (3.11)
– Joined up services (3.12) Continuity of carers (3.13)
– Care for women with perinatal mental health difficulties (3.16)
– More Neonatal Intensive Care Cots (3.19) and neonatal nurses (3.20)