Baby Loss Awareness Week

Part of Business of the House (Prorogation) – in the House of Commons at 6:38 pm on 8th October 2019.

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Photo of Nadine Dorries Nadine Dorries The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 6:38 pm, 8th October 2019

What an important debate this has been, and that is of course thanks to the efforts of my hon. Friend Antoinette Sandbach and the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, my hon. Friend Will Quince, who has been sitting next to me throughout the debate. In fact, I believe that my hon. Friend the Member for Eddisbury still chairs the APPG on baby loss. This is the fourth year that the House has had this debate, and I hope that my hon. Friends continue to push for it to be held every year, forever. It is such an important time not only to focus on the areas that people feel we should be concentrating on, but also to focus on the achievements and to hear stories from so many people.

In the 10 minutes that I have, I would like to respond to some of the points made. I begin with my right hon. Friend Mr Hunt, the former Secretary of State, who, in his usual modest way, omitted to mention the incredible contribution he has made in this area. He spoke passionately about changing from a culture of blame to one of learning; he brought that about in the NHS through his own efforts when, while in the Department of Health and Social Care, he introduced the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch. He instructed it to undertake, I believe, 1,000 maternity investigations a year, including into stillbirths and other mortality issues.

My right hon. Friend asked how we will share lessons learned between trusts and improve patient safety. HSIB has established a process for doing that. The perinatal mortality review annual report will be published on Thursday, as I think he may know. The HSIB annual report will be published in due course. Both reports will begin to share some of the learning from more than 1,500 cases. We are doing more to share information when things go wrong, and as a result of the former Secretary of State’s initiative, when something goes wrong in one trust, we will ensure that it does not go wrong in another. We all hope that will be the outcome of HSIB. We cannot thank him enough, and I am sure we will be mentioning his efforts for many years to come.

Patricia Gibson spoke powerfully about her loss. One of the themes of the debate has been mental health and the support that those who have lost a baby, including fathers and others in the family, need at a time of loss. She moved me to tears. She spoke about testing for pre-eclampsia. In April, NHS England announced that it will make the placental growth factor blood test available across the country, in the light of evidence that the test speeds up the diagnosis of pre-eclampsia. I urge her to push for parity in Scotland, so that the same test given to mothers in England is made available to mothers in Scotland. I am sure that other Members will call for that in this place. I know that other Members in this House have suffered loss through pre-eclampsia. It is a dreadful condition. Our objective should be to do all we can to ensure that no mother has to go through that.