This week marked a significant milestone for the National Bereavement Care Pathway (NBCP). In signing up to the NBCP, South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust became the 69th NHS hospital trust in England to adopt the NBCP. This represents something of a tipping point for the NBCP, because it means that more than 50% of England’s 137 Hospital Trusts are now fully signed up. Between late 2017 and early 2019, 32 hospital trusts piloted the project, with a further 37 signing up. Of those that now remain, 57 have already formally expressed their interest in the project, so we’re hoping that over the next few weeks they will also convert their interest into action.
To mark this milestone, this week we publish a report bringing together findings from last year’s independent evaluation of the NBCP in England and progress made since then. It shows that the NBCP and its nine core standards, have had a positive impact on the care bereaved parents receive and the confidence of staff in delivering it.
But these are statistics. What does signing up to the NBCP actually mean? And what does it mean within the context of a global pandemic?
It means publically demonstrating a trust’s commitment to care for bereaved families whose baby has died in a way which is parent-centred, enables choice, and shows compassion at the time they need it most.
During the Coronavirus crisis taboos surrounding death and bereavement are breaking down. There is increasing public awareness of the need for support and for compassion. But this has been within the context of a health service with increasingly stretched resources, and with staff working under enormous pressure and at great personal risk. All the professionals working within the bereavement care pathway have been affected, with some services changed or scaled back in response to inflection control and the need for social distancing measures.
In asking for their views about changes to services during the pandemic, their commitment and passion for providing the best possible bereavement care, even in the most challenging circumstances, has shone through. The NBCP is more relevant now than ever, providing the standards, resources and tools to help NHS staff to maintain core elements of bereavement care. We need to work together to keep this most important service high up health agendas with services for bereavement parents and families prioritised and protected.
We are calling on those who have yet to commit to the NBCP to work towards fully implementing it as soon as possible, to enable equity in the care that is provided, regardless of gestation, location or circumstances.
Working with our partners, Sands is really proud of all that has been achieved over the past three years. With parents at the heart of our planning through our parent advisory group, we have worked in collaboration to bring about these improvements. We are committed to seeing continued improvements in practice and as such are running online regional workshops throughout the summer with the opportunity to find out more about implementing the Pathway, support for this, and to hear from Trusts nearby that have successfully done so, particularly during these exceptionally challenging recent times.
Booking is now open for the first two (West Midlands and North West) and we welcome healthcare professionals from these regions to join us. Further dates for late August/ early September will be released soon for the other regions
WM: 2pm-4pm 21 July https://eventbrite.co.uk/e/111293780694
NW: 2pm-4pm 23 July https://eventbrite.co.uk/e/111299848844
We encourage all trusts to take up the NBCP, to share their feedback, and to see the difference it makes to families.
As one parent told our external evaluator last year:
“Overall, the care we received cannot be faulted, and we are so grateful to have had this level of care. I truly hope this becomes a national standard that all bereaved parents will benefit from, as I cannot express how much it has helped us navigate through this most difficult time.”