The Bereavement Forum 2019

2 Mar 2019
Dr Keelin O Donoghue, Clinical Lead for the HSE National Standards for Bereavement Care Following Pregnancy Loss and Perinatal Death pictured with HSE Programme Manager, Riona Cotter

Mr Kilian Mc Grane, National Programme Director of the National Women & Infants’ Health Programme, Health Service Executive, opened the Bereavement Forum on 2 March 2019, marking the completion of the two year Implementation Programme for the ‘National Standards for Bereavement Care Following Pregnancy Loss and Perinatal Death’.  The day-long Forum brought together national and international experts along with healthcare professionals representing all 19 maternity hospitals to discuss the work of the implementation programme.

The National Standards, launched in August 2016, defined the care parents and families should receive following a pregnancy loss or perinatal death in Irish maternity hospitals.  The National Implementation Group began its work in March 2017 within the National Women and Infants Health Programme.  This Group, led by Dr Keelin O’Donoghue and Ms Riona Cotter, is a 14-member team of professionals from different healthcare backgrounds with expertise in perinatal bereavement care.

The National Implementation Group has worked in collaboration with management teams and healthcare professionals from all maternity hospitals, as well as parent support groups, bereavement charities and parent representatives to ensure that all families who experience pregnancy loss or perinatal death will receive consistent compassionate care. The Group has been responsible for examining and developing educational programmes around bereavement care as well as ensuring maternity staff are supported in their practice, developing a parental experiences feedback tool alongside standardised clinical care pathways. The establishment of a National Website, which will be used as a resource by bereaved parents and healthcare professionals alike, is the culmination of the two years’ work. The “” website is expected to go live at the end of March.

Speaking on behalf of the National Implementation Group, Dr Keelin O’Donoghue said:

As we reach the end of the second year of the Implementation Programme we are delighted to see that progress has been made in the implementation of the Bereavement Standards nationally. We are grateful to all who have been involved in our programme of work. Putting these Standards into practice demonstrates our commitment to compassionate and high-quality care for parents, while raising awareness of pregnancy loss and recognising its wide impact. We hope that this important work, which we know enhances care for bereaved parents and families, will now continue in all the 19 Maternity units, overseen by the Health Service Executive’s National Women and Infants Health Programme. ”

The Bereavement Forum took place from 10 am to 5pm in the Devere Hall, University College Cork. Invited speakers included: Professor Alexander Heazell, Professor of Obstetrics and Director of the Tommy's Research Centre, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre and Ms Jillian Cassidy, President and co- founder of Umamanita, the Spanish Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society.

Copies of the HSE National Standards for Bereavement Care following Pregnancy Loss and Perinatal Death are available to download online.  

The new website to support families grieving the loss of a baby is now live

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

An Roinn Obstatraice agus Gínéiceolaíochta

Cork University Maternity Hospital, 5th Floor, Wilton, Cork, Ireland