Support for staff who experience baby loss is being led across the Black Country by NHS Trusts in Walsall and Wolverhampton.
As Baby Loss Awareness week (which takes place from 9-15 October) draws to a close, The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust have announced the introduction of a package of support, which includes periods of paid leave for both the person who was pregnant, and their partner. In addition, they are providing increased support for families who have a baby born prematurely.
Following in the footsteps of Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, which announced a similar policy last year, the organisations have introduced the offer to ensure that their workforce has the time and space to grieve and begin to understand and process what has happened, at a time when staff need it most.
The policy offers the following to those who experience pregnancy loss:
- Up to 10 days paid leave for the person who was pregnant and up to 10 days paid leave for the partner. This includes, but is not limited to, miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy and neonatal loss
- In addition, staff are offered paid time off for appointments linked to pregnancy loss, for example, medical examinations, scans and tests and mental health related interventions, if this stretches beyond the time outlined above
- A promise that all requests to work flexibly following a bereavement will also be treated with understanding and sensitivity.
The Trusts have also said that they will offer additional paid leave to attend any appointments linked to pregnancy loss.
Introducing the new policy, Group Chief Executive, Professor David Loughton, CBE said: “One in four pregnancies end in loss, which means that as many as 4,000 people across our workforce will experience this.
“Many of them suffer in silence, with some back at work the next day. This needs to change. We have introduced this policy to ensure that if our staff do experience the tragedy of pregnancy loss, then they know they have our full support to take the time and space that they really need.”
Carla Jones-Charles, Director of Midwifery, Gynaecology and Sexual Health, at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust said: “It is poignant in Baby Loss Awareness Week, that we are recognising that many of our staff will have suffered the sad loss of a baby. It is so important to support them at what is a very difficult time and I really welcome this offer.”
Tracy Palmer, Director of Midwifery and Kate Cheshire, Head of Midwifery at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust added: “This is a great step forward in increasing the conversations around pregnancy loss. To be able to support our staff and their partners during a time of great sadness will mean so much.”
The Trusts have also introduced additional support for those who experience the premature birth of a child, which will see an extension of maternity leave on full pay by the number of days the baby was born early. They will also offer two weeks’ paid leave for partners involved, enabling them to use their new parent support leave at a later date.
Professor Loughton added: “We care for approximately 800 premature babies every year, so we see first-hand the anxiety and stress that this can have on new parents.
“To be able to offer extended leave to those whose children are born early means that we can try to take away some of that worry, so they can concentrate on their new baby.”
Emily Smith, Head of Communications at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust welcomed the new policy as someone who has experienced pregnancy loss.
“I know what a difference this will make for many colleagues,” she said.
“I think it is particularly important that the Trusts have included partners within the offer. Having the support of a loved one during such a sad time will really help the person who was pregnant and enables their partner to process the news too.
“Pregnancy loss isn’t spoken about enough – previously I have felt like I have had to act “normal” and just get back to work. I feel proud to work for an organisation that recognises that people need time and space to try to come to terms with what has happened.”