Health Board’s pregnancy loss policy aims to break down taboos

Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB is proud to be the first Health Board in Wales to develop and implement a pregnancy loss policy for its staff.  It offers paid bereavement leave to any of its employees who experience pregnancy loss, whether it happens directly to them or to their partner.

The loss of a pregnancy remains something many people do not feel comfortable about telling their manager when it happens, or talking openly about their loss in the workplace.  The hope is this progressive policy will go some way to breaking that taboo.

Sadly, pregnancy loss is more common than people think, occurring in as many as one in every four pregnancies.  Everyone at the Health Board who has been involved in writing, and then implementing, this policy have experienced pregnancy loss.

Karen Wright, CTM’s Assistant Director of Policy, Governance and Compliance led on the policy and said: “Pregnancy loss is one of these last taboos in work.  It’s a bit like the menopause, a subject that people don’t really talk about.

“I had recurrent miscarriages.  I had about six.  It wasn’t until my fifth miscarriage that I actually told anyone in work what had happened. 

“They happened quite quickly, within a three year period, and that had just a devastating impact on me.

“Not just me though, my husband as well, possibly even more so.  He’s quite a robust character, but I think it was my third miscarriage and he completely broke down.

“He cried and cried, and that just wasn’t him.  He cried for days.

“I had my miscarriage one day and then went into work the next day.  I just didn’t want to tell my boss, and up until now, that has been the reality for many people.

“My husband was the same, straight back to work.

“As a team, as a Health Board, we don’t want our staff to feel that way.”

This new policy now means anyone who has been affected by a pregnancy loss, either directly or to his or her partner, (before 24 weeks), are entitled to ten working days paid leave.  The ten days do not have to be taken consecutively, and employees will receive paid time off for medical appointments relating to the pregnancy loss, be it for them or accompanying their partner.

Post 24 weeks loss was already covered in CTM’s Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Surrogacy Policy.

Karen Wright said: “I think the reality for me was that I buried what had happened for about ten years.  I thought of it as just another life event.

“Then I had some mental health issues and when I talked it through with a professional, it sort of all went back to my miscarriages. 

“I don’t want, and we don’t want as a Health Board, our staff or their partners to feel that way.

“I had a happy ending.

“I’ve got an amazing, lovely adopted son and I just think this is what was meant to be for me.  I just can’t imagine my life without him.”

CTM’s Executive Director for People, Hywel Daniel, has also been instrumental in this and other forward thinking policies introduced to the Health Board recently.  He said: “This is all about us, as a Health Board, supporting people when difficult things happen in their lives.

“I have experienced this personally on two occasions as a father, and have a small insight into how difficult a time it can be.

“I am keen for us to take a more human, people-focused approach to how we support our 13,000 people and this new policy is one way for us to do this. I am proud to be introducing this policy.

“My hope is this policy will encourage people, regardless of their gender, to open up and talk about pregnancy loss and help us all break down what can be seen as a taboo subject – but vitally to ensure that we provide the right kind of well-being support and time away from work for people experiencing this loss.

“I want all of our people to feel comfortable that if something such as pregnancy loss was to happen to you, you will be able to confide in, seek and receive support from your manager, your colleagues and us as a Health Board.”

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