There are statistics that should chill us. According to the Sands stillbirth and neonatal death charity, every single day 15 babies in the United Kingdom die just before, during or after birth.
I recently became acquainted with one of the stories behind this cold, hard statistic.
I was visited by Simon and Michelle, whose daughter Darcey was one of this tragic number.
What they had to tell me was disturbing.
In 2014, their daughter Darcey was due to be born by C-section at 36 weeks.
However, at 34 weeks, Michelle was bleeding profusely. Simon called 999; yet, despite the nature of the emergency, the call was downgraded.
The effects of this misadventure were nothing short of catastrophic. Darcey was lost. Officially, she was described as stillborn: yet, the hospital staff admitted later that they tended to her for 45 minutes. Michelle nearly died due to blood loss; she required a three litre transfusion. The effects of this case reverberate to this day.
I am not a parent; nevertheless, I do see the depth of love that only a parent can feel.
I witness it in a mother taking her child’s hand in hers as they cross the street, or a dad in a playground on a summer’s day lifting his small child and placing them on a swing. It manifests itself in endless patience: being asked in a supermarket aisle for a sugary cereal for what may seem like the five hundredth time would try anyone’s composure, but a parent can sigh and carry on.
Given such a vast reservoir of emotion, to lose a child just at that magical point they are due to arrive into the world is utterly devastating
It’s even more terrible to think that this could happen again. I’m horrified by the thought that due to the ambulance service being overstretched, as it was this past December, more cases like this could be happening every single day. I wonder: when will this government acknowledge that the supply of investment is simply insufficient to deal with the demand? How many more stories like Darcey’s will it take?
Tragedy can be one’s undoing or it can light a flame; it is to the credit of the family that they didn’t let Darcey’s brief glimmer dim. They have focused their efforts on ensuring that this doesn’t occur again. I have no doubt that we will continue to hear about lessons learned and apologies will flow. However, bland verbal palliatives cannot obscure the fact that our NHS is at breaking point. Cold hard cash has been prioritised over reducing chilling statistics, and preventing the tragedies that lay behind the numbers.
My colleagues and I have brought this up in Parliament and will continue to do so: Darcey and those like her deserve no less.