University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust recorded more stillbirths and newborn deaths per 1,000 births in 2020 than similar services.
The Trust’s rate for each event and both together was 5% higher than the average for the UK’s 28 NICUs.
The research was conducted by the group Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audit and Confidential Inquiries (MBRRACE) and was published in a report last month.
Stillbirths occur when a baby is lost at or after 24 weeks gestation, and neonatal deaths occur when a baby dies within the first 28 days of its life.
Only 5 other NHS trusts in the UK received the worst rating of ‘red’ for their perinatal mortality rate in the MBRRACE report.
A spokesman for UHCW told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) it had seen an increase in women not knowing they were pregnant and fetal abnormalities during the Pandemic.
They said: “As a Level 3 tertiary unit, we receive referrals from across the county for women, often with complex medical backgrounds, who need critical care and emergency care.
“We have supported an increase in requests from other maternity wards to treat complex conditions, including suspected fetal abnormalities, heightened maternal medical needs and suspected preterm births.
“During the 2020 pandemic to which this data relates, we saw an increase in patients with diagnosed fetal abnormalities and women who were unaware they were pregnant and therefore were not booked for prenatal care.
That Spokesman added that the Trust has works closely with GPs and outside agencies to provide priority support to women who report unusual abdominal discomfort or amenorrhea (absence of menstrual periods). They added that “this will help identify women who may be pregnant.”
UHCW manages the University Hospital Coventry and the Hospital of St Cross in Rugby.
2020 marks the first year the Trust has received a ‘Red’ for its record of deaths before and after birth.
There were 5,564 births in the Trust this year, continuing a steady decline from the 6,000-plus in 2017.
The rates of stillbirth and newborn deaths in 2020 have been presented as “raw” and “adjusted” numbers, each showing a different picture.
UHCW’s crude rate for perinatal deaths was 7.37 per 1,000 births, down to 6.65 when congenital anomalies are not accounted for.
This is higher than the overall rate given by the report for the UK of 4.85 stillbirths and newborn deaths per thousand births.
But adjusted rates at the Trust were 5.94 and 5.03, respectively — much closer to the national average.
“Our goal is to provide patients and their families with a safe, high-quality, and personalized experience during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period,” added the UHCW spokesperson.
“We always put patients and their families first, and we continually listen and learn from their experiences to achieve the best possible outcomes.”