AHSN Network national programme from April 2018-March 2020

Every year around 4,000 women in the UK give birth very early because of complications with their pregnancy. Being born too early is the leading cause of cerebral palsy, which has a lifelong impact on children and families.

Magnesium sulphate (MgSO4) given during preterm labour reduces the relative risk of cerebral palsy in very preterm infants by 30% and costs from just £1 a dose. For every 37 women given MgSO4, one case of cerebral palsy is avoided.

The Prevention of Cerebral Palsy in PreTerm Labour (PReCePT) programme was developed by the West of England AHSN in collaboration with University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust and involved both patients and staff.

Selected as an AHSN Network national programme from April 2018 to March 2020, AHSNs worked with maternity hospitals in England to make MgSO4 available to mothers who go into labour at less than 30 weeks. It was the first ever perinatal quality improvement (QI) programme delivered at scale across the whole country, bringing together midwives, obstetricians and neonatologists.

This work brought together the 15 AHSNs and the aligned drivers of the Maternal and Neonatal Health Safety Collaborative (MNHSC) and the national Patient Safety Collaboratives (PSCs) to support the aim of achieving 85% uptake of administration of magnesium sulphate to preterm babies in all maternity units in England.

At the end of the AHSN Network national programme all 152 maternity units in England had adopted PReCePT; the programme aim of 85% uptake had been achieved and variation in administration significantly reduced. Over the course of the programme an estimated 48 cases of cerebral palsy were avoided as a result of PReCePT, saving an estimated £38.4 million in lifetime health and social care costs (figures from 2018-2021).

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