Parents of children who die suddenly feel let down by the NHS

A renowned pediatrician told BBC Panorama that the NHS is failing some parents whose children pass very suddenly. “Sudden unexplained death in childhood” (SUDC) is the term used to describe about 50 child deaths in the UK each year. We don’t know much about their cause. According to Dr. Joanna Garstang, some grieving families are left to suffer “a lifetime of misery” because they are not given the support they are legally entitled to. According to the NHS, it “offers bereaved families a range of support”. The general public and medical community have become more aware of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in recent years. SIDS, formerly known as “cot death,” affects infants younger than one.


A lot fewer people know about SUDC, which is the medical name for a kid who dies without apparent cause between the ages of one and seventeen. In November 2022, Addy, Gavin and Jodie’s two-year-old son, passed very suddenly. Jodie explains, “He was just such an easy, happy baby.” At eight months old, the couple, unable to conceive on their own, adopted Addy. “The most precious thing has been taken from us, and nobody knows why,” Jodie explains. For a period of nine months, BBC Panorama trailed the parents as they looked for explanations for their son’s death and potential preventative measures.


The little boy’s death was classified as SUDC because, despite a forensic post-mortem study, no one was able to determine why he went to sleep and never woke up. A review is conducted to collect data regarding the circumstances surrounding an unexpected child’s death. The NHS must designate a key professional to assist grieving parents in navigating this process and to offer them emotional assistance. A specialty nurse is frequently designated as the key worker, while other practitioners may also fill this role.

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