80% of full-term baby deaths [in England] could be prevented by improving staffing levels. ‘There is not a shortage of midwives in Scotland’ (BBC Scotland)


In a disturbing piece in the Guardian today, we read:

‘About 80% of full-term stillbirths and deaths of babies during childbirth could be prevented if mothers received better care and UK maternity units were better staffed, according to a report by doctors, academics and health charities. About 180 babies died in 2015 as a result of midwife shortages, mistakes by maternity staff and delivery delays out of a total of 225 full-term stillbirths and deaths during childbirth, according to the study.’

The research was carried out by the MBRRACE-UK coalition. Note there is no breakdown of results for the four UK health areas or any discussion of differences between them.



The resultant message is that there is a midwifery staffing shortage across the UK and that babies are dying due to it. This is incorrect. See these comments from BBC Scotland News in the same year as the survey was done (2015) and the Royal College of Midwifery this year:

‘[T] here is not a shortage of midwives in Scotland.’


‘Today the Scottish Government has published its national maternity review ‘The Best Start – A Five Year Forward Plan for Maternity and Neonatal Care in Scotland’. Commenting on the Plan, Mary Ross-Davie, Director for Scotland at the Royal College of Midwives, said; “This is a very welcome report and one that has the full support of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).


Finally, the level of deaths of babies and infants, in Scotland is significantly lower than in the rest of the UK and, indeed, is approaching the Scandinavian ‘gold standard’. See This:

‘In the Nordic countries – Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland – the rate of stillbirths and deaths of babies within 28 days is 4.3 per 1 000 live births. This is the lowest in the world. In the USA, it’s about 10. The Scottish figure has now fallen to just 4.72 with the rate for the UK at 5.61.’

More details at:

Scottish stillbirth and early infant death rates lowest in the UK and approaching lowest in the world

At the beginning of this, I described the Guardian piece as disturbing. I meant that in two senses. First, clearly, the whole notion of stillbirth is deeply disturbing but secondly, this implied conflation of Scotland with the UK is all too common and all too ignorant.

Whether Ruth Davidson and/or the new Labour Leader in Scotland and/or BBC Scotland will attempt to use the same story to attack SNP management of NHS Scotland, we’ll see. We’ve already seen what a numpty the second of them is in his attack on privatisation in Scottish Water. See:

‘Leonard also called for Scottish Water to be nationalised, despite the utility company already being 100 per cent owned by the state.’


Let me know if you see signs of misuse of the research in the Scottish media.


10 thoughts on “80% of full-term baby deaths [in England] could be prevented by improving staffing levels. ‘There is not a shortage of midwives in Scotland’ (BBC Scotland)

  1. Harry M Molloy November 28, 2017 / 11:17 am

    Glad you pointed out the ownership of Scottish water. What I find difficult to understand why Bbc and MSM have not called out this new Labour Party numpty for his lack of knowledge about his country of domicile. I find myself shouting at the tv every time this nonsense is allowed to go unchallenged


  2. TSD November 28, 2017 / 11:56 am

    I have a friend who has been a midwife (in Scotland) for over 20 years and she is overworked because there is a shortage of midwives. Or is it that too many women are pregnant?!


    • johnrobertson834 November 28, 2017 / 2:00 pm

      Could that be a very localised shortage? I used to work in a university whcih trianed midwives and many of them couldn’t get jobs because there were too many being trained, I was told.


      • TSD November 28, 2017 / 2:01 pm

        Possibly. I’ll ask her the next time I see her.


  3. macgilleleabhar November 28, 2017 / 1:28 pm

    I cannot begin to imagine the crushing grief the loss of a baby would cause.
    To make things worse it is caused not by lack of national resources but by the political ideology of a morally and intellectually bankrupt clique who are the establishment at Westminster.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bigjon999 November 28, 2017 / 2:08 pm

    I read that article in the Guardian this morning and was instantly suspicious of whether there was the usual UK/England miss-writing. Thanks for providing correct details and confirming my suspicions!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Brian November 29, 2017 / 9:14 am

    I watched BBC News and ITV News last night (28th). BBC talked about it being a “UK Problem”. ITV more accurately referred to it as a problem “in England”.
    Say no more.

    Liked by 1 person

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