Why Us? Supporting Sands and Bereaved families.

28 June 2018

June has been Sands Awareness Month, when Sands, the voice of bereaved families, works hard to increase awareness of stillbirth and neonatal death and the everlasting impact experienced when a precious baby dies during pregnancy, at birth or shortly afterwards.

While many more people are aware of the pain of baby loss because of the work of Sands and other organisations, many people still have no idea and it remains a taboo subject.

In 2017 Sands highlighted the tragic fact that 15 babies die every day, before, during or shortly after birth in the UK. This means that each day on average 15 families will experience the stillbirth or neonatal death of their precious and much loved baby. Baby loss can deeply affect the whole dynamic of a family, from the devastated parents of the baby they will not bring home, to the grandparents who do not know what to say and the brother or sister who cannot understand why the baby they have been told about is not coming home.

Far too frequently babies that are stillborn, are lost due to negligence.

Parents whose babies are stillborn often take legal action against hospitals because it can be the only way they can find out what happened.

In Blackburn and Darwen, seven babies are stillborn for every 1,000 births according to latest figures. In the UK overall between four and five stillbirths happen in every 1,000 births.

In that last 3 years too frequently I have had to advise families on stillbirths or neonatal deaths that were either avoidable or were so poorly handled that the parents suffered psychiatric injuries including: -

  • A lady from Bury who despite knowing she had lost her child and explaining she could not possibly have the baby passed to her after delivery, had her wishes ignored.
  • A young lady from Essex whose child died 70 minutes after delivery due to negligent failure to progress the pregnancy by way of caesarean section.
  • A lady from Blackburn whose child was stillborn due to failure to communicate a diagnosis of streptococcus B.
  • A lady from North Manchester, whose wishes were not followed and whose concerns were ignored, leading to the loss of her baby one day after being discharged from hospital.
  • A lady from Lancashire who lost a twin due to a failure to call for the Consultant.

These occurrences are too frequent. They should not still be happening. Good attentive care would in these cases have prevented the loss of these children or would have prevented the psychiatric injury to the parent. Often this is simply because the NHS service is too stretched, understaffed and under resourced.

Hospitals have a duty of candour to provide information to parents when they know something has gone wrong. Rarely is this properly observed. Transparency is the most important thing for affected families.

Being instructed by another family who have lost a child unnecessarily will inevitably happen again in the future. This is however often so avoidable and unnecessary.

This month Curtis law have adopted Sands as their charity of the month and all our charitable activities, including our month end World Cup themed meal have been in aid of Sands.

Jerard Knott

Head of Clinical Negligence


You can find out more about Sands at https://www.sands.org.uk/ Follow @curtislaw; @ClinNegCLS; @Apil; @SandsUK; @JerardKnott


The Medical and Serious Injury Team at Curtis Law is led by Jerard Knott, Senior Associate Solicitor, an APIL Accredited Senior Litigator and Clinical Negligence Specialist. We are committed to promoting Patient Safety. The team only acts for Claimants and is dedicated to providing a client care centered high level of service, providing the best possible advice and maximising damages.