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Raffaela Goodby is Chief People Officer at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Trust. She will be leading a session at this year’s Allocate People Summit, highlighting a ground-breaking new policy at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Trust which focuses on helping staff and their families through the grief of baby loss. She writes:

This December there will be the first full debate of a private member’s bill brought to the House of Commons by SNP MP Angela Crawley. The bill aims to give women and their partners the legal right to take three days paid leave, if a pregnancy ends before 24 weeks. Helping mothers and their partners cope with baby loss is something we feel very strongly about and we have been making great strides to improve the situation for staff at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Trust

At Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Trust we help 2,500 families each year who suffer the grief of losing their baby. Each year our staff offer them compassion, empathy, love and care.

Now, thanks to a new policy, which is an NHS first, we are now able to offer our own staff the same care and support that they give to others, should they themselves suffer such a loss.

During my session at Allocate’s People Summit I will be sharing our policy in full, looking at how we developed it with our colleagues and Trade Unions, and new our partnership with Tommy’s Charity. I will giving advice and guidance on other organisations can also offer additional leave and support for women and partners suffering from the grief of baby loss as well as those parents whose babies are born prematurely. The policy has attracted plenty of interest nationally and internationally. Attendees can expect a clear rationale and background for the change, personal stories and tools for implementing support in their own organisations, and coaching in how they too can be an inclusive employer with heart.

By coming along and hearing some personal stories and getting some advice on what you could do in your own organisation, you could be starting a new conversation that is going to help your colleagues with their healing and grief.

Right now in any organisation, people you know, manage or work with could be going through the terrible grief of baby loss and will often be keeping it silent. They may not feel they can tell you about it because “no-one else really does.” Right now, they may be struggling through the mental fog as they try to cover their shift because no-one talks about miscarriage and they just don’t know what to do.

Our new policy will be openly available to anyone who attends the session, we would love you to “steal with pride” and go back to your Trusts and influence your boards to implement a policy that supports colleagues when they experience baby loss, are going through IVF treatment or have a baby born prematurely. Even if it starts one conversation where you can offer love and support to someone who is in a dark place, it will be worth you attending.

During the session, I’ll also be highlighting our brilliant Charity Appeal for Woodlands House, which is going to be a dedicated space at our Women’s Hospital for our families whose babies are born asleep. Offering a safe space away from the main hospital, this beautiful building will be a place where our families can be cared for with gentleness and specialist support, before they say the final goodbye to their babies.

You can hear one of our midwives, Faye Sayers talk about the wonderful care she had when Baby Dougie was born, and what Woodlands House will mean to our families in the future. I am so grateful to Allocate who have made a generous donation to the fundraising appeal.

Life in 2020/21 has changed for everyone. As we navigate our way through this different world, it’s important to share our experience of how we’re helping colleagues give their best at work through new interventions, policies and actions or placing an additional focus on workforce priorities such as mental health. Allocate’s People Summit will be a great chance to hear from the keynote speakers about the different ways we are helping people, finding ways to work smarter rather than harder (let’s face it I don’t think NHS staff can work any harder). If you would like to find out more watch a video of our director of midwifery and me talking about the policy.

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