In Barnsley, we want every sleep for every baby to be safe. Sadly, across England, approximately 200 babies die suddenly and unexpectedly in their sleep each year. In Barnsley, tragically, 12 babies died in their sleep between January 2018 and December 2020. These deaths occurred within family homes and to healthy babies. Although the deaths could not have been anticipated, sadly most of them could have potentially been prevented.
In January 2021, we established a safe sleep group, with representatives from a wide range of services working with families with babies. This includes safeguarding leads and staff from the council, South Yorkshire Police, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, GP practices, probation, voluntary services, midwifery, and health visiting. The group are dedicated to actively supporting all parents in Barnsley to keep their babies safe in their sleep.
The group listened to Barnsley residents’ views on safe sleep and collected national research from Basis and the Lullaby Trust. They also followed recommendations from the national review into deaths of babies who died in their sleep, to develop guidelines and a training programme to promote safe sleep in all partner organisations. The safe sleep guidelines can be viewed online.
The safe sleep guidelines and training programme have worked brilliantly, and each key agency that works with families with babies in Barnsley now has a Safe Sleep Champion. In 2021, no babies died in their sleep in Barnsley.
Cllr Caroline Makinson, Cabinet Spokesperson for Public Health and Communities, said: “We aim to keep every Barnsley baby safe in their sleep for many years to come, making sure that everyone has the best possible chance of enjoying life in good physical and mental health.
“If you’re a parent, are expecting a baby, or know someone who is and would like to discuss safe sleep tips, please don’t hesitate to contact your midwife, health visitor or message the 0-19 Public Health Nursing Service on Facebook.”