Sudden Unexpected Death in Childhood (SUDC) – advice for practitioners

The death of a child or young person is always sad. Talking and thinking about a child’s death is a sensitive and painful subject which is particularly upsetting for parents, families and carers.

There are two inter-related processes for reviewing child deaths – either of which can trigger a serious case review:

Unexpected death of a child
The designated paediatrician or equivalent, responsible for child death should be consulted where professionals are uncertain about whether the death is unexpected. If in doubt, the processes for unexpected child deaths should be followed until the available evidence enables a different decision to be made.

Chapter 5 of Working Together to Safeguard Children sets out the strategic aims for a multi-agency rapid response to an unexpected death of a child. This ensures that critical information is appropriately gathered by agencies involved with the child and shared on a timely basis with other organisations. The guidance sets out the roles and responsibilities of the various agencies and is borne out of respect for life and attempts to prevent future child deaths. The guidance can be found at www.workingtogetheronline.co.uk

Infant mortality is a sensitive measure of the overall health of a population. It reflects the apparent association between the causes of infant mortality and other factors that are likely to influence the health status of whole populations, such as their economic development, general living conditions, social well-being, rates of illness and the quality of the environment.

The Manchester Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) 2015/16 on Infant Mortality provides information about local rates and trends of infant mortality and comparisons against national rates and trends.

Procedure for the management of Sudden Unexpected Death in Childhood (SUDC) (Rapid Response)

Details of the Rapid Response Paediatric Service and the Procedure for the management of Sudden Unexpected Death In Childhood (SUDC) (Rapid Response) (PDF) can be found in Chapter 8 of the GMSP Procedures found at greatermanchesterscb.proceduresonline.com

This procedure supports the rapid response by a group of key professionals coming together for the purpose of looking into and evaluating each unexpected death of a child; and provides direction for professionals from agencies involved when a child (0-18 years) dies suddenly and unexpectedly.

It is imperative all agencies comply with and contribute to all aspects of the Rapid Response process as it applies to their role.

It is essential that agencies work together and share information to support a thorough investigation into why a child has died, to ensure that the bereavement needs of the family are met and that lessons are learnt where appropriate.

Together with principles to follow and a definition, the procedure contains general advice and guidance for dealing with a sudden unexpected death and for inter-agency working. Each agency has its own specific guidelines that will complement this procedure.

Support and advice

Support for practitioners

Support for families
Dealing with the death of a loved one is never easy, but when that loved one is a child, this can be even more difficult for a family.

When a child dies, professionals who are directly in contact with the family may be asked for information about what needs to happen, including the review process, and what sources of support are available.  Information about a range of bereavement support can be found on the Lullaby Trust on their website at www.lullabytrust.org.uk/bereavement-support

The following national organisations can also offer support and advice:

Infant Mortality Strategy

Infant mortality is a sensitive measure of the overall health of a population. It reflects the apparent association between the causes of infant mortality and other factors that are likely to influence the health status of whole populations,such as their economic development, general living conditions, social well-being, rates of illness and the quality of the environment.

The Manchester Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) 2015/16 on Infant Mortality provides information about local rates and trends of infant mortality and comparisons against national rates and trends.

In March 2019 the Reducing Infant Mortality Strategy 2019/24 was published on the MCC website at www.manchester.gov.uk/reducing_infant_mortality_strategy

This strategy was developed to support the reduction in rates of infant mortality in Manchester; it is a collaboration between services and communities – recognising that everyone has a role to play.

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