Target:
NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence)
Region:
United Kingdom
Website:
www.uk-sands.org

Sands, stillbirth and neonatal death charity is very concerned that bereaved parents in the future may not be offered the opportunity to see and hold their baby after death. This is because current guidelines by NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) to midwifery units and to bereaved parents, on seeing and holding their baby after the baby has died, are currently open to misinterpretation.

This guideline (Clinical Guideline 45: Antenatal and postnatal mental health) consists of 4 different documents:

1. The full clinical guideline
2. Clinical management and service guidance
3. Quick reference guide
4. Information for people who use NHS services

In each of these the wording is slightly but significantly different. The current wording in the quick reference guide, which is specifically aimed at policy makers and midwifery staff states: “Do not routinely encourage mothers of infants who are stillborn or die soon after birth to see and hold the dead infant.” This is very different from the statement in the Full Clinical Guideline which reads ”women should not be encouraged to hold their dead baby if they do not wish to.”

Sands already has evidence that one Trust in England has adopted the wording in the Quick reference guide as policy for staff. As a result we are deeply concerned that this wording will be used by other Trusts across the UK if confusion over the guidelines continues.

Sands maintains that parents must continue to be offered choice about what is done when their baby dies, and that in order for choice to be real, it must be informed. Parents have a fundamental right to see their own baby, and no health professional, however well meaning, has the right to deny them this choice.


We, the undersigned, call on the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to revise the wording in three of the four documents that make up the NICE Clinical Guideline 45: Antenatal and postnatal health (2007), so that the wording is consistent with the original document (The Full Clinical Guideline) which reads:”women should not be encouraged to hold their dead baby if they do not wish to.”

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