Paul Maynard – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Department of Health

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Paul Maynard on 2016-04-08.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what programmes are in place to reduce the number of babies born with a low Apgar score.

Ben Gummer

Apgar is a quick test performed on a baby at one and five minutes after birth. The one-minute score determines how well the baby tolerated the birthing process. The five-minute score tells the doctor how well the baby is doing outside the mother’s womb.

In rare cases, the test will be done 10 minutes after birth. The Apgar test is done by a doctor, midwife, or nurse. Who examines the baby’s breathing effort, heart rate, muscle tone, reflexes and skin colour. Most of the time, a low score at one minute is near-normal by five minutes.

Any score lower than 7 is a sign that the baby needs medical attention. The lower the score, the more help the baby needs to adjust outside the mother’s womb. A lower Apgar score does not mean a child will have serious or long-term health problems. The Apgar score is not designed to predict the future health of the child.

In November 2015 the Government announced a national ambition to halve by 2030 the rates of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths and brain injuries occurring during or soon after birth. In support of this ambition more than 90 applications have received additional funding as part of a £2.24 million trusts safety equipment. Over £1 million is being invested to roll out training programmes to make sure staff have the skills and confidence they need to deliver world-leading safe care. We have also allocated £500,000 to develop, a new online system that can be used consistently across the National Health Service to enable staff to review and learn from every stillbirth and neonatal death.

The announcement also committed to publishing an annual report to update the public, health professionals, providers and commissioners on the progress we are making towards achieving the ambition. On 7 March we launched Sign up to Safety – ‘Spotlight on Maternity,’ a guidance document that asks all trusts with maternity services to commit publically to contributing towards achieving the Government’s national ambition.