Background to the Women’s Health Strategy
In July 2022, the Government launched a ten-year plan called the Women’s Health Strategy focusing on health outcomes for women and girls in England.
One year on, Saturday’s announcement unveiled ideas and actions to progress the strategy and includes publishing the Pregnancy Loss Review report. We highlight a few key points from the report and Government’s response.
What is the Pregnancy Loss Review?
The review was set up by the Department of Health and Social Care in England looking into the care and support available to women when baby loss occurs before 24 weeks’ gestation. The Pregnancy Loss Review report has been published over the weekend.
What does the Pregnancy Loss Review report say?
The report makes 73 recommendations to the Government which cover a range of areas such as:
- Education, Training, and Information including in schools and for the public and healthcare professionals;
- Availability of private spaces;
- Early Pregnancy Assessment Units (EPAU) and Gynaecology Services;
- Physical and Mental Health Care and Pain Relief;
- Sensitive handling and storage of baby and pregnancy loss remains;
- Ambulance services and scanning services;
- Addressing disparities;
- Bereavement support;
- Baby loss certificates; and
- The Workplace.
We value and support the issues raised.
In response, the Government has stated that some of the recommendations can be taken forward quickly, one of which is the recommendation for people to have available voluntary certificates for pregnancy losses before 24 weeks’ gestation. The Government has announced that a pilot will start for a process to obtain voluntary baby loss certificates. The aim is for the certificates to be available from this year’s Baby Loss Awareness Week, 9-15 October 2023.
Other recommendations to be progressed soon include improvements to availability of private spaces/bereavement suites, bereavement support and leave for NHS employees as a leading example, education and training around pain and bleeding, and referrals into EPAUs. These are important steps and we must work together with healthcare professionals and people with lived experiences to effect change.
There are more medium- and longer-term recommendations that will also need to be addressed and we hope that the Government takes action on these soon.
Munira Oza, Director of The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust, said: “We welcome the Pregnancy Loss Review report published today in England. The report highlights various improvements needed so that anyone experiencing pregnancy loss before 24 weeks is able to access high quality care and support they need. Everyone affected by pregnancy loss should receive excellent care no matter their type of loss or where they are located.
“The report published today has 73 recommendations. One recommendation is for voluntary pregnancy loss certification. The aim is for the certification to be available in England from October, starting in Baby Loss Awareness Week (9-15 October), which is a poignant week for many. Importantly, this certification would be available for people who have experienced any type of early pregnancy loss, including ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage.
“Ectopic pregnancies usually occur early, often before 12 weeks of pregnancy, and there is very little to commemorate these losses. People may not have told their wider family or friends that they were pregnant or about their loss which can mean there is little acknowledgement of what has sadly happened. Being able to have a loss certificate may help with their grieving process and coming to terms with their ectopic pregnancy. It can provide comfort and validation that their loss matters.
“We hope that the further recommendations of the review are progressed quickly, to support the thousands of women and people who lose a baby to ectopic pregnancy every month in the UK.”
Support for you
We understand that reading about the Pregnancy Loss Review and certification process may cause many emotions to surface. Please know that our support services are available for you to express whatever you may be feeling. We have many support routes including by email, phone calls, Zoom group sessions, and message-boards. We are here for you.
Note on terminology in the report:
Please be aware that the report refers to “baby” and we recognise that for some people use this phrase whereas other people may use “pregnancy” “embryo” or another phrase.
The report also states that: “The terms ‘woman’ and ‘women’ are used throughout this report as this is the gender that most people who become pregnant and experience a baby loss identify as, although we understand that not all pregnant people self-identity as women and may prefer to be identified as ‘birthing person’.”