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NHS Grampian marks 30 years of Aberdeen ward dedicated to pregnancy loss

By David Porter

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Members of the Rubislaw Ward team.
Members of the Rubislaw Ward team.

NHS Grampian is marking 30 years of having a ward dedicated to pregnancy and baby loss.

Rubislaw Ward in Aberdeen became Scotland’s first dedicated baby loss ward in 1993, thanks to the pioneering efforts of just a handful of members of staff who recognised the importance of delivering care to families in a really sensitive way.

Scotland now has National Bereavement Care Pathways, which the team in Aberdeen helped to pilot alongside colleagues in other areas. Similar approaches are now being adopted across the country in line with the pathways:

Bereavement support midwife, Myra Kinnaird explained: “Our unit looks after all women who experience a loss, regardless of what stage of pregnancy they are in.

"It is a huge privilege for us to be able to be there for families and make a difference for them at such a difficult time.

“What we offer has evolved over the years from where it started.

"The team was willing to lead the way back in 1993, and we’re continuing to listen to feedback from families and make improvements today.”

The team at Rubislaw would like to take all that they have learned and embed these practices within state-of-the-art facilities when they move to the new Baird Family Hospital.

Myra’s role as a dedicated bereavement support midwife was quite unique in Scotland until recently.

Myra now works alongside her colleague Marcia Dean covering Grampian in a joint full-time role.

She added: “There’s still a lot of work to be done across the country to improve services for women and families.

"The need for high quality, dignified care for pregnancy loss at any stage cannot be underestimated.

“Across maternity services, it’s an honour to be there at the point people become a family. But the other side is that not everyone goes home with a baby and I have always felt strongly about the need for the right support for those families.”

In addition to NHS Grampian’s commitment to providing a person-centred approach, the team also has a longstanding commitment to research in this area.

Early pregnancy lead Consultant at NHS Grampian and Senior Clinical Lecturer at the Aberdeen Centre for Women’s Health Research, University of Aberdeen, Dr Andrea Woolner said: “The University of Aberdeen has a long history of conducting valuable research in pregnancy loss and this is something we are proud to be continuing.

"We are also proud to be one of the first units in Scotland to offer investigations for recurrent miscarriages after a second miscarriage (compared to previously waiting for three miscarriages prior to commencing investigations).

"This is a step which was welcomed, in the hope it can help to reduce the stress experienced by families.”

The NHS Grampian bereavement support team continues to benefit from partnerships with both Sands and MISS, keeping in regular contact, sharing ideas and ensuring families have access to support available locally. A partnership with the Archie Child Bereavement Service means siblings can also be referred locally for ongoing support.

All women who suffer a loss at any stage in their pregnancy are offered a private room in Grampian, and ongoing support if they would like this. If you would like to ask for help following a loss, please email gram.bereavementsupportmaternity@nhs.scot

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