Questions raised over stillbirth increase at Norwich hospital

Councillors have raised concerns over the number of stillbirths at a Norwich hospital.

The Evening News reported in January how the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is drafting in expert help in a bid to offer extra reassurance to prospective mothers after a rise in stillbirths. Now members of Broadland District Council's overview and scrutiny committee have raised the issue, saying they would like to see it scrutinised in detail by Norfolk's health overview and scrutiny committee.

In January, the N&N said it had looked carefully at the 35 stillbirths which occurred in 2011 and did not believe there was any reason why it saw an increase from 2010's 21 stillbirths. However, as a precaution, bosses called in experts from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to conduct an external review.

The results of that review, carried out in January, have not yet been made public, although the hospital said it planned to release some of the details later this week.

Lana Hempsall, an Acle Conservative councillor, told yesterday's committee meeting: 'I think it's quite important an explanation be given to what happened, why these stillbirths occurred and how they are going to change practices to make sure this doesn't happen and to ensure rates come down?'

Danny Buck, Hellesdon North West Conservative, added: 'I think it's vital if there's something going on we need to help get to the bottom of it.'

But committee chairman James Joyce insisted: 'We don't know the facts. We don't know what's happening and we are certainly not going to pre-judge anything.'

Most Read

A spokeswoman for the hospital said its stillbirth numbers have always been equivalent to or below the national average, but last November it looked as though stillbirth numbers were at 4.9 per 1,000, which was a higher number for the N&N than normal. The last recorded national average was 4.7 stillbirths per 1,000 in 2009.

She added: 'Although our own investigations and review found nothing to account for this, we wanted to provide ourselves with the reassurance of an external review. We now know that when we instigated the review in November the actual figure at that time was 4.7 per 1,000, equivalent to the most recently available national average figure, and our current figure is less than four per 1,000.

'Prospective mothers can be reassured of the quality of our services.'