Bereavement provision for families - what is the picture?

Kevin Hollinrake's Parental Leave and Pay Bill, which received Royal Assent last September, is the first law of its kind in the UK.
Kevin Hollinrake's Parental Leave and Pay Bill, which received Royal Assent last September, is the first law of its kind in the UK.
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Politicians in Yorkshire are among those fighting for additional rights for families whose lives have been affected by bereavement.

New laws are set to come into force next year, having been proposed by Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake, securing additional paid leave for grieving parents.

Mr Hollinrake's Parental Leave and Pay Bill, which received Royal Assent last September, is the first law of its kind in the UK.

It will see employed parents a right to two weeks' paid leave if they lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy.

And, following amendments earlier this year, parents of children who are stillborn are now to be included.

"Losing a child is the most dreadful and unimaginable experience that any parent could suffer and it is right that grieving parents will now be given time to start to come to terms with their loss," said Mr Hollinrake as the Bill was agreed.

Family backing

Among those backing the Bill was Scarborough woman Wendy Pratt, whose daughter Matilda was stillborn.

"It’s been eight years but it’s still something that I think about every day," she told The Yorkshire Post last year.

"We live in a society where people don’t know how to deal with grief, we don’t see it as a human process, it’s almost as if we’re ashamed of it.

"Employers have no tools, no skills to look after people who are bereaved and that needs to change. We need to talk about it more openly."

Bereavement care

A major NHS project on bereavement support is also being pilot across parts of Yorkshire.

Charities such as the Lullaby Trust offer bereavement support to families nationwide, with a dedicated helpline and a befriending service.

Now the National Bereavement Care Pathway, centred on baby loss, sees charity partners working with hospital trusts and healthcare professionals to ensure support.

Among those involved in the trial in the region are Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust and York Teaching Hospital NHS Trust.

More than a third of healthcare professionals nationwide, surveyed for a report as part of the scheme, agreed more must be done to improve care.

The most common barriers, respondendents felt, were a lack of a dedicated bereavement care rooms, a lack of staff resource, and over-complicated paperwork.