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Chamber and committees

Question ref. S6W-03792
Asked by: Paul O'Kane, West Scotland, Scottish Labour
Date lodged: 15 October 2021

Question

To ask the Scottish Government what (a) short- and (b) long-term bereavement support is available for families who lose a child suddenly in an NHS hospital.

Current status: Answered by Kevin Stewart on 2 November 2021


Answer

In line with our Mental Health Transition and Recovery Plan, the Scottish Government recognises the importance of ensuring that high quality, person centred bereavement care and support is available for those who need it. It is important to reflect that each individual and family’s experience of bereavement is unique as are their support requirements. That is why there is a broad range of bereavement care available in the short and long term for those who need it, particularly at this difficult time.

Each hospital will have its own arrangements in place to support bereaved families, as bereavement services are commissioned on a local basis to meet the needs of each area’s population. To ensure effective support, health and social care professionals who work with people around the time of death and bereavement receive education and training from NHS Education for Scotland.

For families, there is also a range of helpful information around bereavement and grief on the NHS Inform website: https://www.nhsinform.scot/care-support-and-rights/death-and-bereavement/coping-with-grief

Since 2016 the Scottish Government has funded Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland and Child Bereavement UK to provide support to individuals and families who have been bereaved. This can be both short and longer term. For example, an Early Support service is available for families for the first 6 months. Beyond 6 months a counselling service is available, if required. If longer term support is needed Cruse will help find appropriate support, such as befriending support for bereaved parents through Compassionate Friends or referral to statutory psychological services.

Looking forward, work on how to best support families after the death of a child will also form part of the new child death review system launched by the Scottish Government in collaboration with Health Improvement Scotland and the Care Inspectorate on 1 October 2021. https://www.healthcareimprovementscotland.org/our_work/governance_and_assurance/deaths_of_children_reviews.aspx