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Clinical Negligence

Baby Loss Awareness Week

Sophie Fox discusses the importance of this week from her experience as a Clinical Negligence specialist

Sophie Fox

by Sophie Fox

calendar_month 9 Oct 23

schedule min read

In the UK, Baby Loss Awareness Week 2023 is recognised on Monday 9th October – Sunday 15th October. Here, Senior Associate Solicitor, Sophie Fox discusses the importance of this week and why, from her experience as a Clinical Negligence specialist, it is increasingly vital that we raise awareness of such loss.

What is Baby Loss Awareness Week?

Baby Loss Awareness Week is aimed at raising awareness about the impact of baby loss, and also of the activism to improve the care provided to families and babies pre and post-pregnancy to try to reduce the number of people affected by the loss of a child in the UK.

The week is organised by the Baby Loss Awareness Week Alliance, a working group comprising of several charities that focus on all aspects of pregnancy and loss including miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, terminations for medical reasons, stillbirth and neonatal death.


Over the last few years, I have noticed a concerted effort being made through social media to talk about the risks and impact of miscarriage.  This has gone some way to removing the societal taboo associated with baby loss and to some extent assisting families to be more prepared and supported should they lose a pregnancy.  That said, I still think that more could be done to remove the stigma of infant loss, at whatever stage this occurs. Despite the increased publicity campaigns, too few families are aware of the high incident levels of miscarriage, which in fact affect one in every five pregnancies. Throughout this, they may feel that they are not given the support they require.


A proportion of my work as a clinical negligence solicitor relates to claims involving stillbirth.   This is the name given to the loss of a pregnancy after 24 weeks.  According to Tommys charity, there were 2,597 stillbirths in England in 2021, or around eight per day.  Not all of these are the result of negligence, some cannot be prevented even with the best care.  However, where they can be prevented, it is incredibly frustrating to see the same circumstances occurring.

Maternity Care Investigations

I have been writing about the impact of avoidable stillbirth since 2015, when the results of the investigation into the care provided at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust were released.  Since then, there have been investigations at Shrewsbury and Telford, Cwn Taf Morgannwg, and East Kent, and we await the outcome of the newly announced investigation into care at Nottingham which looks to be the biggest in the NHS.

Throughout all of these investigations and reports, the same themes sadly recur; too few staff, incorrect advice given to mothers regarding reduced fetal movement in late pregnancy, failure to spot the signs of fetal distress and act accordingly, missed opportunities to diagnose potentially difficult labour during pregnancy, missing the signs of pre-eclampsia and failure to offer or move to caesarean section quickly.  Throughout, families are not being listened to and allowed to make informed choices.

Fighting for Justice

When mistakes do happen, families often report a culture of protection around the trust, with families having to fight to find out what happened and to obtain an apology.  It shouldn’t take bringing a claim for a family to get answers, but all too often this is the only and most effective way to find out what went wrong.  Most, if not all, families who choose to pursue legal action do so not for financial compensation, but to ensure that the care they were give is fully and, importantly, independently investigated.  The goal is to ensure any failings are highlighted and policies and procedures changed to ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated.

Investigations into Standards of Care

My role as a solicitor is to take families through the investigation, where an independent expert will examine the medical records and consider if the care provided fell below an acceptable standard, as is the test for negligence.

Claims will almost always include an investigation into the psychological impact of the loss on the parents, mainly the mother, but in certain circumstances the father or birthing partner too. Successful resolution of these claims allows parents to obtain counselling and therapy.

I am always aware of how emotional these conversations can be and how frustrating it can become.  I do my upmost to get the answers the family require, whether that results in a successful claim for compensation or not, it is especially meaningful as it allows families to move forwards.

Change Ahead

I remain hopeful that we are getting to a turning of the tide in relation to the improvement of maternity and neonatal care in the UK, and that the latest enquiry will prove to be the one that finally puts a stop to the avoidable baby loss that too many families go through every year.

Until then, campaigns like Baby Loss Awareness week do great work to highlight this very important issue and I will be thinking of those families this week.

Baby Loss Awareness Week runs throughout this week, and concludes with a #WaveofLight on 15th  October, where candles will be lit to remember the babies that have passed away.

If you think you have suffered a pregnancy loss as the result of negligence and would like to discuss this in a no obligation, confidential chat, please do not hesitate to contact our new cases team on 03333 058375.

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