As new MPs report calls for more work to be done to make maternity services safer across England, analysis of the latest figures reveals how parents in Watford have been affected by stillbirths and mortality infantile.
The Government has pledged to halve the number of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths nationwide by 2025.
But experts have called for urgent action after worrying disparities in maternity care across England were highlighted following an investigation by the Parliamentary Committee on Health and Social Care.
The committee said infant mortality rates in the country had improved dramatically, but overall progress in improving safety after “shocking failures” in some NHS trusts was too slow.
Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that in Watford, seven babies were stillborn in 2019 – the year for which the latest data is available.
This meant that about five in 1,000 babies in the region were stillborn that year.
Seven more newborns died within 28 days of birth, which equates to a rate of about five in 1,000.
The figures do not show whether any of the deaths could have been prevented or were the result of failures in maternity services.
Around four in 1,000 babies born in England and Wales were stillborn in 2019 and around three in 1,000 died before the age of one month, with those born to black or Asian mothers being much more likely to die.
The committee’s report said the government’s commitment to halving the rate of stillbirths and neonatal deaths was not getting equitable results.
He added that women and babies from ethnic minorities and socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds were more at risk than their white or less disadvantaged peers.
Chief midwife Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, who is developing an equity strategy, said the NHS had achieved a 25% reduction in stillbirths in a decade and welcomed government funding £ 95million announced earlier this year.
However, she told the survey that some of the people using maternity services face social and financial deprivation, inequality, discrimination and racism, adding: “I cannot say categorically when we will bridge the gap. ‘equity gap’.
Clea Harmer, executive director of the SANDS charity for stillbirth and neonatal death, called for a thorough investigation and the introduction of targets to tackle the disparities.
She said: “Babies should not be at a higher risk of death simply because of the zip code, ethnicity or income of their parents.”
The survey found that the government’s overall progress towards meeting its own maternity safety goals needs improvement and said maternity services are expected to receive additional funding of £ 350million each year with immediate effect to ensure that manpower levels and training standards could be improved.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Affairs said maternity safety was a priority for the government and that no parent or baby should experience preventable harm during childbirth.
They added: ‘We know there is still more to do and the government is supporting NHS leaders on maternity with investments to help improve the workplace culture, while also funding a plan to reduce maternity. birth-related brain injuries and better match maternity staff to local needs.
“A strong workplace culture only makes a difference when the NHS has the staff it needs, which is why we are growing maternity staff with a £ 95million recruitment drive. ”