Baby Loss Awareness Week

Part of Business of the House (Prorogation) – in the House of Commons at 4:46 pm on 8th October 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) 4:46 pm, 8th October 2019

The hon. Gentleman has put his thoughts clearly on the record, and if there is anything we can ever do to share best practice with colleagues across the devolved nations and around the rest of the world, we are always happy to do that.

The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch is another remarkable innovation. It commenced investigations in April 2018 and has been operational in the 130 trusts providing maternity services since the end of March 2019. By the end of August, the HSIB had completed 88 investigations, with 169 draft reports looking into maternity and neonatal deaths currently with trusts and families.

NHS Resolution recently published a report on the first year of its early notification scheme for potential birth brain injuries. The scheme requires all births at NHS trusts in England from 1 April 2017 meeting qualifying criteria to be reported to NHS Resolution within 30 days for investigation, so families with a baby affected by a severe brain injury attributable to substandard care can receive significantly earlier answers to their questions. This approach means that they do not have to resort to full court proceedings and can receive financial support with their care and other needs at a much earlier stage. In the first year, 746 incidents were eligible for the scheme. There have been early admissions of liability for 24 families, who have been provided with detailed explanations, admissions of liability and, very importantly, an apology. Families have been provided with financial support for early access to additional care, respite and, where needed, psychological support and counselling.

I am happy to report that this summer the Office for National Statistics reported that the stillbirth rate in England had decreased from 5.1 stillbirths per 1,000 births in 2010 to four stillbirths per 1,000 births in 2018. That represents a 21% reduction in stillbirths two years ahead of our ambitious plan.