Baby Loss Awareness Week runs from 9-15 October. Last year, we featured a blog entitled I Am One in Four by Alison Carr. That’s because one in every four pregnancies in the UK end in miscarriage. Alison suffered not just one miscarriage. In total, she had five!
Having three or more miscarriages is termed recurrent miscarriage and affects one in every 100 pregnancies. In her blog, Alison spoke movingly about her ‘grief, fear, pain, jealously, self-recrimination and self-loathing’ which grew with every miscarriage, and of the lack of specialist bereavement counselling to help her come to terms with her losses.
She also talked about the lack of specialist care for women in Northern Ireland who experience recurrent miscarriage, and having to make multiple trips to London to attend a specialist clinic. Alison is one of the lucky ones. Some women are never offered referrals to specialist clinics. Alison got the diagnosis and treatment she needed and, today, she is the proud mother of two girls.
In June 2014, the Patient and Client Council (PCC) met with a group of women to listen to their experience of miscarriage. The women told us that Northern Ireland needed a consultant who specialised in recurrent miscarriage and a dedicated clinic where women could undergo a range of specialist tests.
Shortly afterwards, the PCC set up the Pregnancy Loss Steering Group (PLSG). The group met every six to eight weeks and made real strides in championing the cause of women who suffer miscarriages. The Group was consulted over the development of a bereavement pathway that is currently being implemented by all five Health and Social Care (HSC) Trusts.
In October 2015, the ‘One in Four – Putting Miscarriage on the Agenda’ event was held for HSC Trust staff and service users to share good practice and highlight any gaps in service provision – an event that attracted widespread media coverage.
Is the message getting through to the decision and policy-makers? Yes, it is. Miscarriage has been identified in the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Draft Commissioning Plan for 2016/2017 as a specific issue.
Its section on Maternity and Child Health recommended that HSC Trusts work with the Public Health Agency and Health and Social Care Board to clarify and standardise the referral and clinical pathways for women who have had recurrent miscarriages.
However, our work is far from done. The PCC will continue to increase awareness and knowledge among key decision makers, planners and commissioners in HSC organisations regarding the gaps in service provision for those women and their partners who experience miscarriage and recurrent miscarriage.
If you have any experience of miscarriage services please leave your comments below.
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Courtesy of Patient & Client Council