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Home » Latest News » Inquests’ for stillbirth babies ‘vital’

Inquests’ for stillbirth babies ‘vital’

Inquests’ for stillbirth babies ‘vital’

Bereaved parents would get clear answers from an independent inquest into their baby’s death.

Under a new consultation the government are looking at implementing a system whereby some stillbirths can be reviewed by the inquest process. Bereaved parents would get clear answers from an independent inquest into their baby’s death. It is hoped that this move will improve the way stillbirths are investigated.

The impact of losing a child is such that families are naturally consumed by the grieving process, and the last thing they think about doing is questioning whether the loss was avoidable. By having an inquest, it would hopefully mean that the families can seek legal representation who can ensure that the relevant examination of facts is undertaken by professionals – this would take the pressure off the grieving family and allow for lessons to be learned in any instances where the stillbirth was preventable.

At present if a baby is born displaying no signs of life the death will not be investigated by coroners, the case would instead be referred to the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch. If a baby was born showing small signs of life and then passed away shortly after it would be a matter that the coroner could investigate.

Bridge McFarland’s Senior Solicitor, Nicola Evans, specialises in claims of this nature. She says that “Not only is it incredibly important for the maternity teams to learn from these incidents, I think it’s also important for the families’ grieving process’ to give stillborn infants the same level of legal recognition granted to babies who survive the birthing process but die shortly thereafter.”

“It is always an emotive subject as the mother comes to us for answers as to why they have suffered the loss of their child. The reality is, no parent wants to hear that the provision of alternative or better healthcare could have saved their precious baby but equally they want to have answers as to why this has happened to them and they want to know the truth. As a firm with great experience of claims of this nature we understand how sensitive they are and what level of care a family require when investigating such matters.”

During any Coronial process, a Coroner has a greater ability to hold Hospital Trusts accountable for actions and mistakes – by including stillborn infants into these investigations there will be a far better overview of the safety of maternity services.

“I really do believe that inquests’ are vital in the fight to prevent infant loss. Without viewing the failings of our maternity services in a joined up manner we are going to miss key trends.”

The Government have released an initiative to aims to halve the number of stillbirths by 2025, following the shocking NHS report published in August 2018 suggesting 600 stillbirths could be prevented nationally if maternity units were following best practice guidelines.

The Hull Women and Children’s Hospital introduced new guidelines in 2016 and they have seen a dramatic fall in the number of stillbirths reported – the number has been reduced by over one third in two years. The new processes include annual cardiotocography training, weekly spot checks and taking the time to educate pregnant women about monitoring babies’ movements after 24 weeks and the risks of smoking to the foetus.

Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price said:

“We want to do everything we can to make pregnancy safer, by continually learning to improve the care on offer so fewer people to have to experience the terrible tragedy of losing a child and those who do get the answers and support they deserve.”

If you have been affected by baby loss and would like some support in obtaining answers to the questions you have then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.