UK & World News
Miscarriage-Risk Women 'Need More Support'
The NHS should set up dedicated services available seven days a week to women at risk of ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage, according to new guidelines.
The report by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) is also recommending a 24-hour helpline for those who experience bleeding or pain in their first trimester.
The health professionals who helped develop the guidelines are also calling for doctors to be more sympathetic to pregnant women in danger of losing their babies.
Nice believes not enough information or support is given to women at risk of miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies, where the egg will not develop into a baby.
Julie Orford, chair of the Birth Trauma Association who helped with the report, had two miscarriages inbetween giving birth to two healthy children.
She agrees there needs to be greater sensitivity from health workers: "(For me) ... there didn't seem to be any sympathy, it was very much a procedure, you were given a cup of tea, you were given a leaflet on your choices, taken through to a room and no one really acknowledged the fact you'd just been given devastating news and that you'd lost your baby."
Figures from Nice show that one in five pregnancies result in a miscarriage - 11 out of 1,000 are ectopic. Between 2006 and 2008, six women died from ectopic pregnancies, two-thirds of which were associated with sub-standard care.
Professor Mary Ann Lumsden, from Glasgow University, was involved in developing the guidelines. She says the report is aimed at advising doctors and bringing the issue to the fore: "A major part of the reason behind this guideline is to try to get everyone thinking about it and think, 'I wonder if this woman might be pregnant'.
"There are very few deaths from ectopic pregnancies but if there are any, there are too many.
"There may be some cost involved in setting up a seven-day specialist service but, in the long-term, it is likely to be cheaper and is certainly better for the woman to have scan facilities and staff with the expertise to assess a woman than it is to treat her in theatre or on a hospital ward after she has collapsed from an ectopic pregnancy or excessive bleeding."
The Department of Health is backing the guidelines and urging hospitals to use them.
Health minister Dr Dan Poulter believes pregnant women deserve nothing less than the best care possible.
"This guideline has real potential to save lives - many hospitals and community care settings already ensure high quality for women at risk of ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage but provision of services can sometimes show unacceptable variations throughout our NHS ? we expect all hospitals and community care settings to do everything possible to implement its recommendations."
The report also seeks to help women who can not access medical help as easily as others, such as recent migrants, refugees and asylum seekers who may have trouble speaking English.