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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

My hon. Friend is right, and so much of what the Government have been working on in recent years is about making sure we have the right facilities, skills and knowledge right across our NHS estate.

Let me reiterate what I mentioned a moment ago, which is that we have seen a 21% reduction in stillbirths two years ahead of our ambitious plans. Of course every stillbirth is a tragedy, but I am sure the House will want to join me in paying tribute to midwives, obstetricians and other members of multi-disciplinary maternity and neonatal teams across the NHS for embracing the maternity safety ambition that we set, and for their incredible hard work in achieving this milestone two years ahead of target—that is remarkable. However, there is no room for any complacency, because there is so much more to do.

Many Members will be aware that the neonatal mortality rate in 2017 was only 4.6% lower than it was in 2010, and that headline figure hides the fact that the ONS data show that the number of live births at very low gestational ages, most of whom die soon after birth, increased significantly between 2014 and 2017. In fact, the neonatal mortality rate in babies born at term—that is, after at least 37 weeks’ gestation—decreased by 19% and the stillbirth rate in term babies decreased by 31.6% between 2010 and 2018. The pre-term birth rate remains 8%. Clearly, the achievement of our ambition depends significantly on reducing those pre-term births.