Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust has become the first in the NHS to offer paid leave for those coping with pre-term baby loss or premature births.
The trust, which runs Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Birmingham Women’s Hospital, made the changes to make sure colleagues have the time and space to process their loss, grieve and begin to heal.
The move will mean up to 10 days paid leave for the person who was pregnant and up to five days paid leave for the partner, where they have suffered with miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy and neonatal loss.
Staff will also be offered paid time off for appointments linked to pregnancy loss, including medical examinations, scans, tests and those relating to mental health.
The paid period is not dependent upon gestation of pregnancy or the staff member’s length of service.
The trust - which employs 6,500 people - has also pledged to treat with sensitivity any requests to work flexibly, following a bereavement.
The organisation has also signed the Smallest Things ‘Employer with Heart’ Charter, offering staff whose baby is premature additional support.
There will also be paid leave for reasonable time off for partners going to antenatal appointments and five calendar days in any rolling 12-month period for fertility treatment, not limited to IVF.
‘Too many women and families suffer in silence’
Sarah-Jane Marsh, trust chief executive, told the PA news agency: “As an organisation focused on the care of women and babies, we are passionate about increasing awareness of this important issue, especially as, for many, it still carries a stigma.
“Too many women and families suffer in silence and with one in every four pregnancies ending in loss, this has to change.
“Our new policy is about looking after our staff to the very highest standards, so that if anyone experiences the tragedy of pregnancy loss, they have the time and space they need to grieve and heal.”
Faye Sayers, a senior community midwife whose first son, Douglas Sayers, was stillborn in 2018 and whose second, Leonard, was born at 32 weeks, welcomed the new policy.
She said: “This will be incredible for women, families and other children to be able to have the time to be a family and process everything that’s going on at such a difficult time.”