My last #endstillbirths post was all about the good news going on to prevent avoidable deaths.

This week brings more good news but some people have decided to spike that delicious treat with pieces of glass.  Some for self interest, some for self promotion and some for a lack of self awareness.

Let’s start with the good before extracting the bad.

Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle

This week a package of information for heath care professionals and expectant parents is published.  It’s the result of years if work by healthcare professionals, research and charities (see Annex A for the full list) and sets out the importance and need for better maternal health, baby monitoring and getting help when the kicks aren’t coming as often or at all.

On the latter, the guidelines specifically tackle the pervasive and pernicious myths around reduced movements.

It’s one more treat alongside the recent pick ‘n’ mix of announcements around improving patient safety, better data and better use of data collection, investigation and the Sign up for Safety pledge building on the good work of hospitals and health care professionals in preventing avoidable deaths.

All of this good solid collaborative work is forgotten as the media shifts its frantic gaze on this week’s announcement, viewing it in isolation and making no connections or spotting what more needs to be done.


The guiltiest party of all in this is The Sunday Times which off the back of its token, wasted effort of a petition seeks to claim these achievements as its own.


What rankles further is the quote from Simon Stevens:

“As The Sunday Times has rightly argued, we could cut the chances of this happening if all pregnant mums were encouraged to quit smoking, if proper monitoring takes place during pregnancy, and if maternity providers listen carefully when pregnant women report worries about their baby’s movements.”

This may be ‘small p’ politics but it wasn’t the Sunday Times that argued this but the research from MBRRACE and The Lancet series and recall to action.  It did not come to these conclusions on its own.

It can’t claim victory for the other demands on its list either as they were already being addressed by the Government in November 2015.

In claiming victory for itself it dismisses all of the work that went on to make the care bundle happen.  A simple search online is enough to show that organisations like Sands and Tommy’s have been working on this since November 2014.

Lack of self-awareness

I don’t like open letters and I rarely get involved in the snake pit of online newspaper comment sections but I saw comments on the Sky News article New Advice Aims To Halve Stillbirth Rates that enraged me so much I woke up angry about them even when I promised myself I wouldn’t.

So hats off to MSquirrel and Candy Stripes for their thoughtful comments to add to the good news about what you would think is the largely uncontroversial topic of preventing the avoidable deaths of babies.

MSquirrel gets the runner-up prize for ‘whataboutery


Providing information to people is not ‘Nanny State’.  It helps them make informed choices and lets them know about the risks and what to do if things aren’t quite right.  The research highlights the value of this for both parents and health care professionals.


It’s on page 21.

And here in big friendly letters.


First prize goes to Candy Stripes:


Candy Stripes scored points for insensitivity, tone deaf commentary and use of a pointless and misspelled Soylent Green reference (with special mention to putting ‘Google it‘ next to a typo) with an argument about overpopulation on an article about dead babies with the hopefully unintentional consequence of looking like they are in favour of dead babies if it means tackling global issues and avoiding a people eating dystopia.

Did they really think that this was the best home for this type of comment?  Did they think that we should take comfort that our dead children won’t be sucking up the precious resources that allow people like Candy Stripe access to food, water, healthcare and the technology that allows them to make their crass arguments?  Did they miss the part of the article that emphasised this was about preventing avoidable deaths?


We get so few pieces of good news and we should be reassured that as an issue preventable deaths are being taken seriously with political will, co-ordinated efforts to address culture and practice and recording and making use of data and investigations to take on the whole problem.

I rant about the glory hunters, misguided and misinformed to pluck the glass from the rare treat of good news so we can shift our focus on the good work done rather than those that seek to spoil it through malice or thoughlessness.


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