Baby Loss Certificates

Oral Answers to Questions — Finance – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:00 pm on 7 May 2024.

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Photo of Stephen Dunne Stephen Dunne DUP 2:00, 7 May 2024

2. Mr Dunne asked the Minister of Finance for an update on the introduction of baby loss certificates. (AQO 382/22-27)

Photo of Liz Kimmins Liz Kimmins Sinn Féin

6. Ms Kimmins asked the Minister of Finance for an update on a baby loss certificate scheme. (AQO 386/22-27)

Photo of Caoimhe Archibald Caoimhe Archibald Sinn Féin

With the Principal Deputy Speaker's permission, I will answer questions 2 and 6 together.

As Members will be aware, I am keen to see the scheme be taken forward as quickly as possible so that bereaved families have the opportunity to have formal recognition of their loss. Initial discussions have taken place between officials in the Department of Health and the General Register Office (GRO) on how the baby loss certificate scheme might be developed. A further meeting will take place towards the end of May. Officials in the Department of Health and the GRO will meet the managers of the baby loss certificate scheme from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in England in mid-May. That ongoing engagement will provide important lessons for the development of a scheme here.

Photo of Stephen Dunne Stephen Dunne DUP

I thank the Minister for her answer. Does she agree that there is a real need for the scheme to be delivered at pace in order to avoid any additional unnecessary pain for parents who have lost a baby? Is there a timescale for the roll-out of the scheme? When will it be in place?

Photo of Caoimhe Archibald Caoimhe Archibald Sinn Féin

I am on record as saying that I want to see the scheme move forward as quickly as possible. It is important that parents here who suffer that horrendous loss have it recognised. We need to work through a number of steps to ensure that the legislation, the resource and the delivery plan are agreed and in place. It is likely that consultation will be required to determine the best way of meeting the needs of those who require the service. I am keen to see the scheme be taken forward as quickly as possible, but we need to go through those steps in order to give bereaved families the opportunity to have their loss recognised.

Photo of Liz Kimmins Liz Kimmins Sinn Féin

I thank the Minister for her quick action in taking forward the scheme. The motion that we tabled was passed less than a month ago. It is therefore really good to receive that update.

Minister, will you confirm whether the General Register Office will engage with women who have been impacted on by baby loss, as well as with bereavement organisations, including Sands, throughout the scheme's development? It is very important that their voices be heard.

Photo of Caoimhe Archibald Caoimhe Archibald Sinn Féin

I thank the Member for her comments. There are some fantastic organisations that provide invaluable support to help families through their loss. Those organisations bring a wealth of experience and expertise that we, as policymakers, want to use to ensure that the scheme meets the needs of bereaved parents. Officials are considering options for how the scheme could work and have identified many areas in which the views of the public and bereavement organisations will be very welcome.