Midwives from North Middlesex University Hospital Trust in London are celebrating after winning the Sands Award for Bereavement Care, at The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Annual Midwifery Awards.  

Michelle Lynch, a bereavement midwife and part of the North Middlesex University Hospital Trust Bereavement Team in London, was presented with the prestigious award by Good Morning Britain news presenter, Charlotte Hawkins on Tuesday 6 March at The Brewery, London.

The Sands Award for Bereavement Care recognises excellence in bereavement care provision by maternity staff for women and their families when a baby dies.

Michelle and her colleagues from the Trust established a bereavement care ‘Snowdrop Service’. Developed in close collaboration with bereaved parents and clinical staff they provide a comprehensive and compassionate service to support families through childbearing bereavement and any subsequent pregnancies.

The service offers mothers and families a postnatal appointment at home if preferred.  They also run a fetal clinic for families, care-planning for meeting their baby, support 'surgeries' and monthly coffee mornings to help Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit (EPAU) patients.

Michelle Lynch, North Middlesex University Hospital’s bereavement lead midwife, said: “It’s an honour to have won this award in recognition of the changes we have made to our bereavement services, and we dedicate it to the memory of all babies who have sadly died, their families and loved ones.

“We are determined to keep improving in partnership with our parents, as the care that families receive following the time of pregnancy loss is critical in the creation of important, lasting memories of their child, and in aiding their recovery. Moving forward we hope joining Wave 2 of the National Bereavement Care Pathway (NBCP) pilot will benefit the future development of our service.

Dr Clea Harmer, Chief Executive at Sands, said: “I am delighted that Michelle Lynch has been awarded the Sands Award for Excellence in Bereavement Care for the outstanding work of the Snowdrop Service.

“Every week in the UK, over 100 babies die just before, during or shortly after birth. The care that parents receive at this time is of crucial importance for their physical and mental health, both in the short and long term. Whilst no level of care can remove the grief that many parents will feel, good care can make a devastating experience feel more manageable. 

“It is so important to recognise the work of midwives like Michelle who are able to offer the bereavement care that parents need and deserve.  I would like to both congratulate Michelle and thank her for all the wonderful work that she does.” 

Improving the care bereaved parents receive is one of Sands’ core aims. To achieve this we work in partnership with health care professionals and others to minimise the risks of stillbirth and to ensure the families of those babies who do die receive the best possible care.

The RCM Annual Midwifery Awards rewards, celebrates and shares outstanding achievement in midwifery across the UK.  You can find further information on the RCM awards on their website

Picture: left to right – Dr Clea Harmer, Chief Executive at Sands; Michelle Lynch, Sands Award for Bereavement Care award winner; Gill Walton, RCM Chief Executive and Charlotte Hawkins, TV presenter.  Picture: Carmen Valino.