Jeremy Hunt: I thank the shadow Health Secretary for the constructive tone of his response to the statement. I think he is right to point out both the achievements that have been made over many years, but also the challenges ahead. We have about 1,700 neonatal deaths every year—that has actually fallen by 10% since 2010—but behind that figure, there is variation across the country. For...
Jeremy Hunt: I do not have that information to hand, but I will find out for my hon. Friend and let her know.
Jeremy Hunt: rose—
Jeremy Hunt: I actually agreed with everything the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire said. I will give a rather more brief response.
Jeremy Hunt: Let me simply say that there is an excellent Scottish patient safety programme. Given that one of the main objectives behind the statement is to share best practice, I would be very happy to talk to the chief medical officer in Scotland and to Jason Leitch about how we can exchange information and learn from each other’s systems.
Jeremy Hunt: I thank my hon. Friend for her extraordinary campaigning on this issue. Yes, we want parents to get the answer more quickly, but we also want to be able to answer the question that every parent asks: “Can you guarantee that this won’t happen again?” The investigators will have an explicit dual remit: to get to the bottom of what happened, but also to spread that message...
Jeremy Hunt: Through the hon. Lady, I express my thanks to Jack and Sarah for bravely telling their story this morning in the media, which was incredibly moving and touched a lot of hearts. With respect to allowing inquests into full-term stillbirths, our objective is to move as quickly as any legislative vehicle allows. If I am able to work closely with my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and...
Jeremy Hunt: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. As he knows, because he has spoken so movingly on this subject many times, there is absolutely nothing we can do to make up for the searing loss of losing a loved one—a baby. It is the worst thing any parent can go through. We can at least give them the commitment that we will learn. If we are honest, we do not do so at the moment, because we...
Jeremy Hunt: I am happy to recommit to that. I apologise to the hon. Lady and her constituents for the delay. I will look into what happened right away.
Jeremy Hunt: I am happy to do that and am most grateful for that very generous offer.
Jeremy Hunt: We must give doctors, nurses and midwives our full support, because they do an extraordinary job. Sometimes there are difficult issues and the centralisation of certain maternity services can improve patient safety if it means that there is round-the-clock consultant cover and so on. In my experience, the most important thing is to spot the most risky births early in the process. I am not a...
Jeremy Hunt: I can absolutely confirm that. This follows a very interesting discussion on that topic we both had at lunch. My hon. Friend is right that the key is early intervention. Also, we know that continuity of carer makes a very big difference. If, well ahead of labour, people can meet the midwives who will be delivering their child, that can help reassure people and lead to safer births.
Jeremy Hunt: I will look into that very carefully. I am satisfied that there is strong new leadership at the Pennine trust and that it is being turned around, but it has told me about some of the cases to which the hon. Gentleman refers. They are of very great concern, and we absolutely must do everything we can to give answers to bereaved families.
Jeremy Hunt: First, may I apologise to my hon. Friend, because I should have mentioned her in my statement as someone who has spoken very passionately and movingly on this topic in the House? I will take away her point about specialist coroners, because we are now going to have specialist investigators, which we have never had before. I would make one other point. I hope she does not think I am doing down...
Jeremy Hunt: I absolutely undertake to look into that case and ensure a proper investigation into what is happening. The hon. Gentleman is right; in the end, we need to be much more open about this data, so I commend the trust for sharing the data publicly. Until we access such data, we will not know where the issues are that we need to solve.
Jeremy Hunt: I am very happy to undertake to do that.
Jeremy Hunt: I can absolutely confirm that for low-risk births that is the case, but it is also key to spot the births that are not low-risk so that alternative provision can be made.
Jeremy Hunt: I am intrigued to hear that, because my three children were born at the Chelsea and Westminster, and my wife would have been delighted if I had done a “dads to be” course. I will certainly look into that course and, I am sure, actively promote it.
Jeremy Hunt: I am very happy to do that. Midwife-led units and home birthing are both part of the NHS maternity offer, but it is wrong to suggest that there is a conflict between patient safety and the choice made by mothers. No mother would ever actively make a choice to do something that was not the safest option for her and her child.
Jeremy Hunt: My hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that. The evidence is very clear about the damage done to foetuses and babies if there is too much—or, indeed, any—drinking by a mother. I did not mention it in the statement because we are focusing on smoking cessation training, but he is right to mention the issue.