|Coronation Street's Kym Interviews Ann Keen MP|
Health Minister helps soap star to raise awareness of premature births
In February this year Coronation Street’s Kym Marsh gave birth to baby boy Archie at just 21 weeks and five days. Sadly he died after a few moments of life.
Reporting for the Tonight programme, Kym investigated concerns that the issue of prematurity is not at the top of the agenda for the decision makers.
Speaking before the programme was aired on ITV earlier this week, Kym said “I’m hoping in doing this programme that maybe I might go someway to finding some kind of answer really as to as to why these things might go wrong with pregnancies. But also I’m hoping to maybe raise some more awareness of the situation because I think not enough is known about it.
“We need to do something more towards the research into premature birth so that maybe we can prevent some from happening, and it would be good to meet other people who have been in the same situation as myself because it just makes you feel a bit more normal, I guess.”
There are over 50 000 babies born prematurely each year in the UK, one of the highest rates in Europe. The numbers are still rising, yet there is currently no accurate screening test available to identify women at risk. Prematurity is the greatest cause of infant death in Britain.
In the final stage of her journey Kym met Health Minister and local MP Ann Keen to discuss the findings of her report.
Speaking about being interviewed by Kym, Ann Keen said, "As Minister with responsibility for maternity and children’s health issues, I was happy to be involved in the programme. The NHS has made tremendous progress in caring for babies born prematurely and England is still one of the safest places in the world to give birth.
"Babies who are born prematurely, or have a low birth weight, require very specialised care in their first hours and days. As a nurse I’ve seen the excellent care the NHS provides for small and premature babies, and the doctors and nurses working in neonatal care should be proud that more babies than ever before are surviving.
"Having a sick baby is very distressing for parents at what should be one of their happiest moments. That’s why we’re providing the NHS with practical guidance on how to make neonatal services even better and take a family-centred approach to care. This subject is exceptionally important to me personally, which is why I have made a commitment to provide ministerial oversight to ensure that this guidance is implemented by the NHS."
She continued, "The past few years have seen significant improvements in neonatal care. The number of neonatal intensive care cots is rising and the paediatric nursing workforce has increased by nearly a quarter between 1997-2007 - that’s over 3,500 extra nurses. More very premature or very low birth weight babies are being born alive and surviving and neonatal mortality rates have fallen. It is a tragedy every time a baby dies, but the NHS is making progress.
"I will continue to work closely with the charity Bliss and other organisations as I believe that by working together we will continue to improve the care of premature babies and their parents."
November 14, 2009