Safer Maternity Care: The National Maternity Safety Strategy—Progress and Next Steps.London: The Stationery Office; 2017

Annual report and accounts 2016/17.London: The Stationery Office; 2017

Each Baby Counts: 2015 Summary Report.London: RCOG; 2017

More rigorous investigating needed to improve maternity safety

02 February 2018
Volume 26 · Issue 2


Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced new plans to investigate stillbirths and life-changing injuries at birth. Alistair Quaile reports progress made on the Safer Maternity Care action plan

Coroners could be given powers to investigate stillbirths and help improve maternity safety, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said. Currently, coroners only have jurisdiction to investigate deaths of babies who were alive at birth. The announcement comes after a recent report showed that three-quarters of birth-related deaths or brain injuries might have been avoided (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), 2017).

Hunt also revealed that independent investigations are to be offered to families who suffer stillbirth or life-changing injuries to their babies. The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch will look at 1000 cases each year to find out what went wrong and why, and encourage system improvements that will lead to fewer deaths and injuries in the future.

Commenting on the plans, Hunt said:

‘The tragic death or life-changing injury of a baby is something no parent should have to bear, but one thing that can help […] is getting honest answers quickly from an independent investigator. Too many families have been denied this in the past, adding unnecessarily to the pain of their loss.

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