Reducing Stillbirths: AECC University College's School of Medical Ultrasound Train Midwife Sonographers in Northern Ireland

Colleagues from our School of Medical Ultrasound delivered courses in Northern Ireland, the second time our expertise has been put to use in Belfast. Our School of Medical Ultrasound are working with all three NHS trusts in Northern Ireland as part of a UK nationwide initiative to reduce stillbirths with a project called GROW.

Back in November 2014, the Secretary of State for Health announced a new ambition to reduce the rate of stillbirths by 50 per cent in England by 2030, with a 20 per cent reduction by 2020. Despite falling to its lowest rate in 20 years, one in every 200 babies is stillborn in the UK; this is more than double the rate of nations with the lowest rates, and the UK is behind the rest of Europe in stillbirth rates.

Reducing stillbirth continues to be a priority for the NHS and is one of the mandate objectives from central government. Two of the key elements of reducing stillbirths in regards to care is the effective fetal monitoring during labour and risk assessment and surveillance for fetal growth restriction. NHS England has published new guidance that aims to reduce stillbirths in England; the ‘Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle‘.

Deputy Director of the School of Medical Ultarsound, Warren Foster, commented: "We are honoured to be delivering another 3rd Trimester ultrasound course to the 3 largest Trusts in Northern Ireland, covering physics and image production done and fetal wellbeing and management, with hands-on training, to prepare midwives with best practice and equip them with the relevant knowledge. This is a great opportunity for AECC University College, and for those benefiting from our expertise. Another example of how we effectively impact real-world health related problems." 

The medical model in Northern Ireland means that obstetrics scanning is carried out by Doctors; with no specific roles for sonographers to date. This model is similar to the rest of the UK nearly ten years ago. Our School of Medical Ultrasound have identified the need for midwives to know how to scan to be Midwife Sonographers and have been providing two day training sessions, then six month clinical placements in their hospitals. The students are then examined and observed seeing six patients in one day.

Find out more information on our on-site Ultrasound Clinic, or take a look at our MSc Medical Ultrasound and Ultrasound Short Courses.