Pioneering premature birth clinic wins NHS innovation prize

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Young baby with mother

We are delighted to announce that our preterm surveillance clinic has won an NHS Innovation Challenge Prize for its success in reducing the number of premature births in south east London.

The clinic won the award for ‘Better management of pregnancy’ at a ceremony last night, and also received prize money of £150,000 from the Department of Health — the biggest prize to date.

The clinic focuses on screening for, treating, and preventing pre-eclampsia and premature birth. As a result of this novel approach, 90% of high-risk women seen at the clinic have had a healthy baby at full-term, compared to a national average of 50-70% of women.

The care provided by the clinic means that premature birth rates have reduced by 15% in the high-risk local area from 9.2% to 7.8%, despite nationwide increases in preterm birth.

Now the largest preterm clinic in the world, it has influenced the development of similar specialist clinics in the UK and abroad.

The award was collected by Andrew Shennan, the obstetrician who leads the clinic and who is also Professor of Obstetrics at King’s College London. Professor Shennan said: “We are delighted that the preterm surveillance clinic has been recognised for its innovative approach.

“Premature birth is often caused by a combination of different complex factors, and no single strategy has been effective in reducing pre-term birth rates. We are very proud that our clinic is bucking that trend, by offering a unique package of care for high-risk women, based on best research and clinical evidence.”

The clinic is funded by the national baby charity Tommy’s. Jane Brewin, CEO, said: “Premature birth affects a huge number of families each year and can have devastating consequences. We hope that this recognition of the preterm surveillance clinic helps implement a national model, so that this sort of specialist care is routinely available to women at risk, wherever they live.

“If other clinics were to have the same impact as this one, the national rate of premature birth could also decrease – instead of increasing – meaning that potentially 15% (9,000) of all premature births in the UK could be prevented.”

Last updated: March 2022

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