National Stillbirth Prevention Drive Brings Closure of Bristol Birth Center


The launch of Saving Babies’ Lives by NHS England, aimed at reducing stillbirths across the region has spurred a notable increase in the demand of midwives in England.

Due to the drive, there has been an unprecedented increase in pregnant women needing medical inductions at Southmead Hospital. This has caused a shortage of midwives at North Bristol NHS Trust, so in order to ensure that their services continue to run safely, the trust has decided to temporarily shut the Cossham Birth Centre, transferring the midwives to Southmead.

North Bristol NHS Trust and other trusts in the country face similar pressures due to the introduction of the new maternity policy to lessen stillbirths.

Helen Blanchard, the interim director of nursing at the trust says, “Recent national changes to the way the NHS cares for women with identified risks during pregnancy have increased demand for complex and specialist care. To ensure we can run the safest maternity service possible, we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily close Cossham Birth Centre until we have recruited enough additional midwives.”

From 2015, a two-year pilot was executed with 19 trusts, revealing that the rate of stillbirths reduced by a fifth in the participating locations. In addition to this, it also showed a 19.4 percent increase in inductions of labor and a 9.5 percent increase in emergency caesarean sections.

These figures explain the related increase in midwives across the nation, with North Bristol Trust needing to close its birth centre in Cossham, opening six extra maternity beds at Southmead, and working on recruiting 24 additional midwives to fill the urgent vacancies and manage the busy workload.

Saving Babies’ Lives began as a result of Jeremey Hunt’s commitment to half the number of stillbirths in England by 2025. It requires maternity staff to use a special care bundle made of four evidence-based interventions, from smoking, fetal growth, fetal movement, to fetal monitoring.


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