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Animations to support difficult conversations around the death of a baby


Doctors, nurses and other care specialists in Scotland are getting extra support in how to have discussions with parents in one of the most difficult situations they will experience in their careers – stillbirths or neonatal deaths.

To coincide with Baby Loss Awareness Week (, and a House of Commons debate on Thursday 13 October, two animations for healthcare professionals, one about how to discuss post-mortem examinations, and one about breaking the news of a stillbirth are due to be launched, as part of a range of resources which have been developed by NHS Education for Scotland (NES).

Dr Clare Tucker of NES who has been developing the resources said: “Support around expected and sudden deaths by healthcare professionals is an important part of improving bereavement care in Scotland.

“Caring for the dying, supporting families dealing with grief around the time of death and in bereavement is core business for medical teams. But healthcare staff need support and advice as well in order to deliver the best care possible for those going through some of the worst moments in their lives.”

Margaret Evans, Consultant Perinatal Pathologist at NHS Lothian, who helped develop the resource, said:

"This is a very difficult subject to raise with grieving parents and being able to learn from the video before discussing the issue with families is invaluable for staff involved in this process. At times and in partnership with parents, post-mortem examinations are carried out in cases of stillbirth and neonatal death in order to give us the best chance of understanding the many and varied causes and thus allowing us to prevent similar losses in the future. Knowing the cause of the loss cannot ever take away the grief but it can help reduce anxiety in subsequent pregnancies. "

Caroline Lamb, chief executive of NHS Education for Scotland said:

“While some specialists may deal with death and bereavement almost on a daily basis, many professionals will encounter bereavement situations very rarely in their careers, particularly unexpected deaths.

“This can lead to anxiety and stress, not being able to find the right words to say or even knowing where to turn to for support. These bite sized animations and additional support will reduce the fear of the unknown and lead to greater and better support for Scotland’s NHS workforce and those they are caring for.”

The creation of these resources, along with the other activities which are underway to improve bereavement education for health and social care professionals has involved the Scottish Government, General Medical Council, Scottish Academy, undergraduate medical schools, postgraduate medical specialty representatives and various third sector organisations.


Reference PR2016 - 027

For more information, contact: John MacEachen 07769 637632

Editors notes

1. To view the animations and access the resources please go to Discussing Authorised (Hospital) Post Mortem Examination After Stillbirth or Neonatal Death is available today (towards the foot of the home page), and 'Breaking the news of intrauterine death' is expected to be published next week.

2. NHS Education for Scotland (NES) is a national special health board working to provide education, training and workforce development for those who work in and with NHS Scotland. Our aim is to provide excellence in health and care for the people of Scotland through high quality education, training and development.