NHS workers who suffer a miscarriage to be given up to 10 days paid leave to help them ‘process the trauma’

NHS workers suffering a miscarriage before they are six months pregnant will be given paid time off work as part of new guidelines.

Women employed by the health service who suffer a miscarriage in the first 24 weeks of gestation will get 10 days of paid leave. Staff whose partner has a miscarriage will get five days.

If a stillbirth occurs after six months of pregnancy staff will remain eligible for maternity leave under the health service’s new policy.

The new National Pregnancy and Baby Loss People Policy Framework is designed to help staff process their grief in these heartbreaking circumstances.

Experts said the move sends a ‘powerful signal’ that people impacted by baby loss ‘deserve understanding, compassion and the right to grieve’. 

Women employed by the health service who suffer a miscarriage in the first 24 weeks of gestation will get 10 days of paid leave (stock image)

Women employed by the health service who suffer a miscarriage in the first 24 weeks of gestation will get 10 days of paid leave (stock image)

Staff and their partners will be entitled to additional leave to process their grief under NHS England’s new National Pregnancy and Baby Loss People Policy Framework, which was issued to hospitals on Wednesday.

MailOnline understands there is no ‘cut-off’ period of being pregnant for a minimum period to be eligible for the support and the policy will operate on a ‘trust’ basis. 

It will also apply to couples who are having a child via surrogacy. 

The new framework also asks NHS trusts to give staff paid time off to attend appointments including for medical examinations, scans and tests, as well as mental health-related interventions.

Those who return to work after a miscarriage will be offered occupational health support, which could include a referral to a specialist within their trust.

Dr Navina Evans, chief workforce, training and education officer, said: ‘Baby loss is an extremely traumatic experience that hundreds of NHS staff experience each year, and it is right they are treated with the utmost care and compassion when going through such an upsetting experience.

‘We know the significance of getting support right in the very first instance for our staff, which is why, for the first time in the healthcare sector, we are providing paid leave so parents can take time out to process this traumatic experience as well as paid time to attend appointments.’

Dr Evans added that she hopes the formal guidance will inspire other sectors to ‘adopt such supportive approaches to miscarriage in their own organisations’.

Kath Abrahams, chief executive of baby loss charity Tommy’s, said: ‘Pregnancy loss can take a huge toll on women and birthing people, both physically and mentally. Their partners may also be profoundly affected.

‘As the largest employer in the UK, the NHS is sending a powerful signal that staff going through this experience deserve understanding, compassion and the right to grieve – and that support is possible, no matter what your workplace looks like.’

Health minister Maria Caulfield added: ‘Our brilliant NHS workers look after us when we need it most and this new guidance is a positive step towards ensuring they are supported through the tragedy of losing a baby.

‘It means doctors, nurses and their partners will now be entitled to additional leave to help process their grief, which is crucial to their long-term mental health and wellbeing.’

Ms Caulfield said the framework ‘delivers on key recommendations made in the Pregnancy Loss Review’ and forms part of the Government’s drive to improve women’s health through its Women’s Health Strategy.

The new policy was trialled at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Trust, where a staff survey revealed workers were twice as likely to remain with their employer as a result.

Raffaela Goodby, chief people officer at the trust, said: ‘I hope this national policy to support mothers and parents with love and compassion at a terrible time in their employment is welcomed across the NHS and drives positive change across the UK.’

NHS Wales is has said they will consider offering a similar scheme. No such commitment has yet been made by the health service in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

There is no legal right to specific miscarriage leave in the UK though some employers, and now the NHS in England, implement their own policies.  

The NHS says about one in eight pregnancies end in miscarriage, which is medically defined as the loss of pregnancy during the first 23 weeks.   

Other estimates put this figure higher, about one in six, as many women in the very early stages of pregnancy may not realise they are expecting when a miscarriage occurs.

Tommy’s estimates there are 250,000 miscarriages every year in the UK.

Stillbirths, medically when a baby is born dead after 24 weeks of pregnancy, are far rarer, roughly occurring in one in every 250 pregnancies.

Data shows 2,866 stillbirths were recorded in the UK in 2021. 

Source link