Baby Care Units: Safety

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered at on 25 September 2023.

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Photo of Matt Vickers Matt Vickers Conservative, Stockton South

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to help ensure the safety of babies in neonatal units in the context of the Lucy Letby case.

Photo of Maria Caulfield Maria Caulfield The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)

Most families have a positive experience of neonatal care thanks to the dedication and expertise of National Health Service clinical teams. The neonatal mortality rate for England (for births at 24 weeks gestation and over), has fallen by 30.4% since 2010 to 1.37 per 1,000 live births in 2021, the year for which the most recent data is held. There would have been 355 more neonatal deaths in 2021 if the neonatal mortality rate had been the same as in 2010.

This autumn, the new Patient Safety Incident Response Framework will be implemented across the NHS, representing a significant shift in the way we respond to patient safety incidents, with a sharper focus on data and understanding how incidents happen, engaging with families and taking effective steps to improve and deliver safer care for patients.

The NHS is taking decisive steps to strengthen patient safety monitoring, and the national roll-out of medical examiners has created additional safeguards since 2021, ensuring independent scrutiny of all deaths not investigated by a coroner, and improving data quality.

The maternity and neonatal delivery plan, published this year, sets out what the NHS will do over the next three years to improve care to make it safer, more personalised and more equitable. Since 2021, NHS England has invested an additional £165 million per year to improve maternity and neonatal care.

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