Wednesday 10 August 2016
The Minister for Health, Mr Simon Harris, today launched the HSE National Standards for Bereavement Care following Pregnancy Loss and Perinatal Death. These new standards clearly define the care parents and families can expect to receive following a pregnancy loss or perinatal death. The standards will be implemented and applied across the health service in all appropriate hospitals and settings.
Dr Keelin O’Donoghue who is Principal Investigator in the INFANT Research Centre and Consultant Obstetrician at Cork University Maternity Hospital explained; “The publication of these standards marks another significant step forward for the health services and is a direct expression of our commitment to compassionate care for patients. All Maternity Hospitals/Units will now establish or develop further Bereavement Specialist Teams to assist and support parents, families and professionals dealing with pregnancy loss.”
Dr. O’Donoghue and her team within the INFANT Centre are leading investigations into the causes of perinatal death and pregnancy loss. Dr O’Donoghue will be the clinician to lead the implementation of the standards across the country.
The standards will ensure that bereavement care will be central to the mission of the hospital. The hospital will ensure a system is in place to provide bereavement care and end-of-life care for babies, organised around the babies’ and families’ needs and in accordance with the families’ wishes and values.
These new standards will ensure staff have access to training opportunities in order to provide this care in accordance with their roles and responsibilities. Care which is sensitive to the individual needs of parents and children will be implemented consistently, and supported by a large range of staff:
Dr O’Donoghue pointed out that; “All Maternity Hospitals and Units will now establish or further develop Bereavement Specialist Teams to assist and support parents, families and professionals dealing with pregnancy loss. These teams will undertake specialist and extensive education in bereavement care, and will include a dedicated clinical midwife specialist in bereavement care for each maternity unit. They will be supported in their work by staff from other disciplines including obstetricians, paediatricians, neonatologists, chaplains, social workers and palliative care teams.”
In addition to prioritising high-quality bereavement care for parents and children, Dr O’ Donoghue also welcomed the announcement as an acknowledgement of the “impact of pregnancy loss and perinatal death has on staff and the importance of having formal structures in place to support staff who care for these families.”
The standards have been developed in response to recommendations in both the HSE’s Investigation report in to the death of Savita Halappanavar and the report of Dr. Peter Boylan following his review of maternity cases at Portlaoise Hospital. Copies of the HSE National Standards for Bereavement Care following Pregnancy Loss and Perinatal Death are available here.