‘Red light’ warnings over stillbirth rates at some Scots hospitals

Jackson Carlaw said the figures were 'of huge concern'. 'Picture: Ian Rutherford
Jackson Carlaw said the figures were 'of huge concern'. 'Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Scottish hospitals are among the worst in the UK for stillbirths, new data has revealed.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran comes second in a list of 21 health boards across Britain to be given “red light” warnings for their high stillbirth and newborn death rates.

Their figures show that more than eight children per 1,000 were stillborn or died within 28 days of being born.

Other health boards in Grampian, Forth Valley and Dumfries and Galloway received less severe amber ratings.

Ministers are now being urged to do more to reduce the “concerning” figures.

The report was compiled by MBRRACE-UK, a group of academics, charities and institutions which carries out inquiries into maternity deaths.

The health authorities included in the list each have stillbirth and neonatal death rates more than 10 per cent higher than the average in ­other health boards of the same size.

Belfast Health and Social Care came top of the “red light” list, with 9.54 stillbirths and newborn deaths per 1,000.

They were closely followed by NHS Ayrshire and Arran, at 8.38, and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals which had 8.31.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said: “These details will be of huge concern to pregnant women across Ayrshire.

“This is an issue of huge importance, and should be cause for experts right across the UK to see what can be done.”

He added: “Lessons must be learnt from countries with a lower rate than here.”

Each of the 21 health authorities was asked to conduct reviews to identify changes to bring down the rates, but many attributed them to the health of the local population.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran says it has found “no systemic failings” in the care it provided and added that, when considered over a long period, its perinatal death rates were not higher than other units.

Maureen Watt, Scotland’s public health minister, said: “The Scottish Government responded to a parliamentary petition in 2010 … by forming a stillbirth working group and setting an aim in 2012 to reduce stillbirths by 15 per cent by 2015.

“The fact we have managed to reduce stillbirth rates by 18 per cent in the past four years shows that a combination of approaches adopted throughout Scotland were lower than the UK average but that ministers were determined to reduce rates further.”

Last year, Scotland’s registrar general said there were 228 stillbirths in 2014, the lowest rate ever recorded. at four for every 1,000 births.