The Maternity Assessment Unit at Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, was set up in June 2015 and since then, the number of stillborns in Portsmouth has steadily reduced.
In 2015, there were 4.7 stillbirths per 1,000 compared to 3.5 per 1,000 2016. For 2017, although figures are yet to be officially analysed and confirmed, the rate is currently projected at 2.2 per 1,000 births.
Abbie Alpin, director of midwifery and maternity at QA, said: ‘The unit was set up in response to a national need to reduce stillbirths.
‘Thankfully we have seen a reduction in the past two years and we’re really pleased. What’s important now is that we sustain that decrease and ensure it continues.’
Abbie said the service looks at a number of aspects in pregnancy and is part of a national scheme.
‘When opening the unit, we started the Saving Babies Care Bundle which was part of a national scheme,’ she added.
‘Its aim was to get the number of stillbirths reduced by 20 per cent by 2020 and 50 per cent by 2030.
‘Our service is 24 hours and looks at reducing smoking in women, monitoring the growth of the baby, increasing awareness on reduced movements of the baby and monitoring the baby’s movement during labour.’
As part of the unit at QA Hospital, mums-to-be are encouraged to ask questions if there are any changes to the baby’s movement.
Abbie said mums are encouraged to ask as many questions as they want.
She said: ‘The unit is 24/7 because we want to be available to women whenever they have concerns. There is nothing too small they can ask us about.’
The work of the Maternity Assessment Unit has not gone unnoticed. It was named winner in the Best Improvement category of QA’s Best People Awards, held last month.
Announcing them as winners, Christine Slaymaker, a non-executive director at QA Hospital, said: ‘These improvements in stillbirth rates could not have been achieved without the exceptional willingness to change and improve the ways of working.’
Abbie said the win was great for the whole maternity ward and highlights the hard work of everyone involved.
‘We were really pleased we won, it was fantastic for the whole team,’ she added.