Baby Loss Awareness Week

Part of Business of the House (Prorogation) – in the House of Commons at 6:11 pm on 8th October 2019.

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Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis Conservative, Banbury 6:11 pm, 8th October 2019

I hope that my right hon. Friend will count that among his most important achievements. I expect that he said, as did Justin Madders, that blame is probably not the way to go, and that we need a cultural shift in the NHS, so my ask this year is that we should make maternal death a never event. Luckily, maternal deaths are rare—I was almost one of them myself—but making them a never event, with the definition and the muscle that that provides, would be very helpful.

With my prison service background, I should add that a child or, indeed, a mother dying in custody should also probably be a never event, with all the chain of investigations that should flow from that. I know that the recent death in custody is being very well investigated, and there is no need to comment further on that case now. The never event definition is helpful, because it sets in train a course of investigations that need not be blamed-filled but which are helpful for learning.

Sadly, the situation elsewhere is not as helpful as in this country. A baby dies every 11 seconds worldwide, and many maternal deaths are completely preventable. I am pleased that the Secretary of State for International Development has chosen to make maternity a priority for the Department for International Trade. He wrote an excellent article about it in The Times last week, and I encourage hon. Members to read that article.

The Secretary of State for International Development is helping members of the Royal College of Midwives to provide training in rural Bangladesh, and he is resourcing organisations that work with women who have had female genital mutilation performed on them and who have dreadful maternal complications as a result. He is working to provide vaccinations, which are so helpful in preventing the death of newborn babies. Across the board, the fact that maternity is now a priority for DFID is really helpful.

I close by thanking you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for your support in this area and for allowing me to say a few brief words this afternoon, and by advertising the baby loss service at St Mary’s, Banbury at 6 o’clock this Sunday. It is an extraordinary event, and we have been doing it for only a few years. People came to that church in the first year who had never talked about their loss, and it is overwhelming.

Such services are taking place all over the country, as the hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston said. Unfortunately we have not organised one in Parliament this year, as we normally do, because we are not sitting, but I am sure we will organise one in future years. I thank everybody who has taken part in this debate, which I think is now annual. I am thrilled that we have Government time, and I hope we have it again in future.