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Government Pledges Independent Coroner Investigations to Families Grieving Stillbirths

Government Pledges Independent Coroner Investigations to Families Grieving Stillbirths

Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt has announced the Government’s intentions to improve the care of pregnant women and ensure healthcare staff learn from mistakes.

Mr Hunt will announce the measures on Tuesday 28 November at a conference in London hosted by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

The announcement today that parents of stillborn children will be offered a review by a coroner is long overdue. Due to legal technicality, coroners have previously only been allowed to investigate if the baby was born alive.

In a bid to save more than 4,000 lives, he will also outline how the Government wants to halve the rate of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths and severe birth-related brain injuries by 2025.

One element of the new plans will be for full-term stillbirths to be investigated by coroners for the first time.

Currently, coroners can only investigate the deaths of babies who show signs of life after being born, and not the deaths of full-term babies who died prior to or during birth.

Victoria Beel, clinical negligence lawyer at Slater and Gordon Lawyers, said: “The announcement today that parents of stillborn children will be offered a review by a coroner is long overdue. Due to legal technicality, coroners have previously only been allowed to investigate if the baby was born alive. 

“This will be welcome news to those parents who have fought for so long for the right to have their stillborn children recognised by a coroner’s investigation. Parents often tell me the most important aim for them after losing a child, is to make sure the hospital are honest and that they are given answers to what went wrong and what steps will be taken to prevent another family having to go through the same trauma. I hope this goes some way to achieving that aim.”

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