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Maternal and newborn deaths: new team appointed for historic programme

significant improvements in the health and care of pregnant women and their babies, yet there are still improvements in health and care to be made

The Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) has appointed MBRRACE-UK (Mothers and Babies – Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries across the UK) to run the national Maternal, Newborn and Infant Clinical Outcomes Review Programme, effective immediately.

MBRRACE-UK is a collaboration with members from the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (NPEU) at Oxford University and the universities of Leicester, Liverpool and Birmingham, University College London, Imperial College London, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands and an Oxford-based GP.

Almost one in 100 UK births leads to a stillbirth or newborn death and up to 100 women die each year during or just after pregnancy. The programme will investigate the deaths of women and their babies during or after childbirth, and also cases where women and their babies survive serious illness during pregnancy or after childbirth. The aim is to identify avoidable illness and deaths so the lessons learned can be used to prevent similar cases in the future leading to improvements in maternal and newborn care for all mothers and babies.

The programme incorporates the Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths (CEMD, established in 1952). CEMD is recognised as having led to major improvements in the health and care of women and their babies and was most recently carried out by the Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries (CMACE).

MBRRACE-UK will be led from the Oxford University’s National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (NPEU) and will build on existing research projects, including the UK Obstetric Surveillance System (UKOSS) led by Professor Marian Knight at the NPEU, and The Infant Mortality and Morbidity Studies (TIMMS) group led by Professors Elizabeth Draper and David Field at the University of Leicester. Professor Jenny Kurinczuk at the NPEU is leading the new MBRRACE-UK team.

Professor Kurinczuk said: ‘It is a privilege to be taking forward this work into a new era. The previous work, most particularly the Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Death, has contributed to significant improvements in the health and care of pregnant women and their babies, yet there are still improvements in health and care to be made.’


Dr Sheila Shribman, the Department of Health’s National Clinical Director for Children, Young People and Maternity Services said: "The work of the Maternal and Newborn Clinical Outcome Review Programme has been vital to improving health and well being outcomes for mothers and babies. The new MBRRACE-UK programme will build on the recommendations made by the Expert Panel that reviewed the programme last year in light of the changes taking place across healthcare. I congratulate Oxford University’s National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit on successfully winning this contract and am confident that they will do an excellent job."

Janet Scott, Research Manager at Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, said: “Every day in the UK 17 families are devastated by the death of their baby either shortly before or soon after they are born. We believe a significant proportion of these deaths are potentially avoidable so we are extremely glad to be involved in this new initiative and to be able to add the perspective of parents. We look forward to working with this excellent team to improve understanding of how the deaths of many babies could be prevented.”

Dr Tony Falconer President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) said: “The new MBRRACE-UK programme will be vital in improving care and will build on important work. The past confidential enquiries contributed to major improvements in both maternal and perinatal mortality rates. They are used as the gold standard around the world to demonstrate how well a country is doing in terms of its overall health.”

“NPEU has an outstanding track record in conducting clinical research, surveillance and audit. We look forward to working with them on this new project to ensure that there is an ongoing audit of morbidity and mortality rates resulting in safer outcomes for women and their babies.”

Louise Silverton, Deputy General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “The work of MBRRACE-UK is important for midwives because it helps to inform and improve their practice. Most importantly, it is important for women and their babies who as a result, will receive safer and better care.”

Professor Terence Stephenson, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said: “We are delighted the MBRRACE-UK team has been awarded the contract. The RCPCH leads the Clinical Outcome Review Programme for Child Health and we look forward, on behalf of paediatricians in the UK, to working together to develop both the newborn and child health clinical review programmes.”

For more details contact Prof Jenny Kurinczuk ( or Prof Marian Knight ( at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit: 01865 289700


Notes to editors:

For more information on MBRRACE-UK visit

Members of the programme team:

• National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, Oxford University: Prof Jenny Kurinczuk, Prof Marian Knight, Dr Ron Gray and Dr Maggie Redshaw

• The Infant Mortality and Morbidity Studies (TIMMS) Team, University of Leicester: Prof Elizabeth Draper, Prof David Field, Dr Lucy Smith, Dr Bradley Manktelow

• Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity: Charlotte Bevan, Janet Scott

• University College London: Prof Peter Brocklehurst

• University of Liverpool: Prof James Neilson

• University of Birmingham: Dr Sara Kenyon

• General Practitioner, Oxford: Dr Judy Shakespeare

• The Neonatal Data Analysis Unit, Imperial College London: Prof Neena Modi

The National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (NPEU) is a research unit at Oxford University established in 1978 with funds from the Department of Health. The unit has expanded considerably in recent years and now has well over 70 staff including epidemiologists, obstetricians, midwives, nurses, paediatricians, social scientists, and information specialists. The mission of the NPEU is to produce high quality research evidence to improve the care provided to women and their families during pregnancy, childbirth, the newborn period and early childhood as well as promoting the effective use of resources by perinatal health services. Details at

The TIMMS team at the University of Leicester was established in the late 1990’s. TIMMS run an internationally renowned programme of research investigating the causes, consequences and management of specific aspects of the morbidity and mortality of the fetus, infant and child. Research findings are used to influence policy, education and clinical practice in reproductive, perinatal and paediatric medicine. Details at

Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, was established by bereaved parents in 1978. It is a national organisation, with over 100 regional support groups across the UK. Sands’ core aims are: to support anyone affected by the death of a baby; to work in partnership with health professionals to improve the quality of care offered to bereaved families; and to promote research and changes in practice that could help to reduce the loss of babies’ lives. Details at

UKOSS is a joint research initiative between the NPEU and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, in collaboration with the Royal College of Midwives, the Obstetric Anaesthetists Association, the National Childbirth Trust, the Faculty of Public Health of the Royal College of Physicians. It is a UK-wide obstetric surveillance system to describe the epidemiology of a variety of uncommon disorders of pregnancy. This system lessens the burden on reporting clinicians of multiple requests for information from different sources. Details at

The Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) was established in 2008 to promote quality in healthcare, and in particular to increase the impact that clinical audit has on healthcare quality in England and Wales. It is led by a consortium of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Royal College of Nursing and National Voices. HQIP commissions, manages and provides support, guidance and advice for the National Clinical Audit and Patient Outcomes Programme (NCAPOP), including the four National Clinical Outcome Review Programme Confidential Enquires, and funds over half of these. Details at: