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17 June 2014

UK: Mumsnet finds women unhappy with miscarriage care

A survey of 1,065 women by the Mumsnet website has found that 46 per cent of women who had miscarried waited 24 hours for a scan, while one in five were kept waiting longer than three days.

The survey also found that some 47 per cent had to undergo treatment alongside women with ongoing pregnancies.

Susan Seenan, chief executive of the charity Infertility Network UK, stressed the importance of access to counselling in the event of a miscarriage, the Daily Telegraph reports. “Good support and access to counselling from sensitive trained staff who understand the emotional as well as the physical effect of miscarriage on both women and their partners can make an enormous difference to those dealing with the grief of losing a baby,” she said.

But Mumsnet found that of the 58 per cent who had wanted to speak with a trained therapist after the event, only 12 per cent were offered it. “I had to wait six months to get counselling and lost six months of my life as I was not coping with the loss,” one woman wrote.

And while 58 per cent of respondents wanted further medical care, just 26 per cent were offered it. “The hospital said they’d ask a health visitor to contact me. That was two months ago; nobody has been in touch,” replied another.

In 2012, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance stated that miscarrying at home would be the default clinical response for women undergoing miscarriage before the 13th week of pregnancy. But the Mumsnet survey found that only 15 per cent of women who miscarried at home, following a scan, felt they had the right support, information and pain relief to cope. “I was told, over the phone, to ‘just sit on the toilet and hopefully it will all come out’,” recalled one Mumsnet user.

Eleven women were asked to store their miscarried foetus at home – some reportedly in the fridge – prior to further tests being carried out.

Only a quarter of the women surveyed spoke of their experiences to friends and only 13 per cent told wider family.

Mumsnet users are campaigning for better care in case of miscarriage. They are calling for straightforward improvements in the treatment patients receive including: supportive staff, access to scanning, safe and appropriate places for treatment, good information and effective treatment and joined-up care. Many of the points are included in best-practice guidance from the Department of Health. But the Mumsnet survey indicates that it is often not being implemented.

Mumsnet is now asking for a parliamentary commitment to improving miscarriage care. Justine Roberts, the founder of Mumsnet, said:

“There’s no escaping the pain of a miscarriage. But for this to be compounded by lack of treatment, pain relief, good care – or just plain human kindness – is completely unacceptable. We are calling on the three main parties to include a pledge in their manifestos to improve miscarriage care, based on the principles in our code.”

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, added:

“Midwives and other health professionals have an important role to play in supporting women and families through the physical and psychological impact of miscarriage. Kind, compassionate and empathetic communication around care and treatment is an essential step to support families. It is particularly important that there is effective communication between the hospital, GP and midwife to provide ongoing support or advice, as needed.”

Half who miscarry ‘wait 24 hours for a scan’ – Mumsnet. Daily Telegraph, 16 Jun 2014