More than one in every 100 babies delivered last month at a major NHS trust which runs health care services across Greater Manchester were stillbirths.

There were six stillbirths in October at the Northern Care Alliance (NCA) which runs Salford Royal, the Royal Oldham, Fairfield General and Rochdale Infirmary.

Last year, there were 31 stillbirths in total across the whole organisation.

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It comes as staffing of midwives continues to be 'challenging' and the number of patients receiving one-to-one care in labour has dropped to around 90 pc.

But reviews of the six recent stillbirths raised no concerns about the quality of care received by the women, the NHS trust's board of directors was told today.

There were no themes identified by the investigations into these stillbirths – although two of the women contracted Covid within the six weeks before.

Simon Mehigan, director of midwifery at the NCA, shared details of the stillbirths with the board at a virtual meeting on Monday (November 29).

Three of the women who suffered stillbirths were considered to be 'low risk' and their assessments, scans and treatments were found to be 'appropriate'.

Two of those women had Covid in the six weeks before their stillbirths, but none of them were admitted to hospital or presented with any symptoms.

All of these women were 'full term' - past the 37-week point of the pregnancy - while the other three stillbirths took place between the 24th and 28th week.

One of the pregnancies was terminated for 'fetal abnormalities', but it is still considered to be a stillbirth because it took place after 24 weeks had passed.

Joseph Timan, Local Democracy Reporter for Salford and Wigan at the Manchester Evening News

Jo is a Local Democracy Reporter covering councils, the NHS and other public services in Manchester and Greater Manchester.

If you want to contact Jo directly, you can email him at [email protected]

Mehigan also said there has been a 'significant' reduction in the number of pregnant women reporting Covid symptoms as more are now vaccinated.

The NHS director said the biggest challenge to staffing is the number of midwives who are on maternity leave which stands at around 12 at a time.

He explained that most midwives have chosen not to work while pregnant since the pandemic started, following guidance by occupational health.

David Jago, who is the chief officer at Oldham Care Organisation which runs the Royal Oldham Hospital, said the six stillbirths are set to be investigated further by the independently-run Health Safety Investigation Branch.

He said: "One is one too many and unfortunately we've seen six in October."

Chief nursing officer Libby McManus told the board internal investigations take place 'very quickly' with 'rapid learning' applied where appropriate.

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