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MBRRACE-UK Signs of Life Guidance Consultation

The MBRRACE-UK Signs of Life working group has launched a consultation relating to the development of UK guidance to support health professionals in the assessment of signs of life for spontaneous births before 24+0 weeks of gestational age where active survival-focused care is not appropriate.

This guidance aims to reduce the confusion and distress experienced by parents by helping doctors and midwives with the assessment of newborn babies who are born before 24 weeks of pregnancy. The guidance also aims to increase the consistency of the registration of births and deaths. This is a distressing and sensitive topic and may be upsetting, particularly for those affected by the loss of a baby.

The draft guidance was developed by consensus by a multi-disciplinary UK working group comprising representatives from all of the relevant UK clinical organisations, Government health departments, Northern Ireland Public Health Agency, academic experts in extremely preterm birth, medical law and medical ethics and third sector stakeholders. The group is led by MBRRACE-UK who are commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) to undertake the Maternal, Newborn and Infant Clinical Outcome Review Programme (MNI-CORP) on behalf of NHS England, the Welsh Government, the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorate, the Northern Ireland Department of Health, the States of Guernsey, the States of Jersey, and the Isle of Man Government. The aims of the MNI-CORP are to collect, analyse and report national surveillance data and conduct national confidential enquiries in order to stimulate and evaluate improvements in health care for mothers and babies.

The draft guidance is intended for health professionals but may also be of interest to other stakeholders. It will complement guidance on decision making around obstetric interventions and initiation of neonatal intensive care at extreme preterm gestations by the British Association of Perinatal Medicine.

This consultation seeks views on the content of the draft guidance. We want to ensure that the guidance is clear, comprehensive and useful for its intended readers. We wish to hear from a wide range of people, including but not limited to: health professionals, government representatives, charities and organisations that work with women and parents. We would be grateful if you would share this email with anyone you think may be interested. We are interested in individual views but due to the distressing topic area, we will be consulting parents through parent advocacy groups. Parents who have been affected by this issue may be interested in sharing their views but may find it upsetting and support is available from the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, Sands, the Miscarriage Association, and Antenatal Results and Choices

In the pursuit of openness and transparency, we will publish non-confidential versions of responses on the MBRRACE-UK webpages. Please indicate any responses that contain information that you regard as sensitive and would like to be omitted from publication on our webpages with an explanation of the reasons for omission.