Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has called for a change in the law to allow inquests into stillbirths.
Currently, inquests are only carried out when a baby is born alive and then dies. In addition, a claim for a bereavement award (currently £12,980) as part of a clinical negligence case is also only available if the baby is born alive.
As a result, the parents of a stillborn baby will often struggle to get a thorough and independent investigation into the death.
The Health Secretary acknowledged that families have been denied answers into their babies deaths, due to a lack of in-depth investigation, as hospitals are not rigorous enough at uncovering their own mistakes. The MBRRACE-UK collaboration of academics reported that 9 in every 10 internal investigations into these deaths fail to meet the national guidance for thoroughness threshold.
Elizabeth Draper, author of the MBRRACE-UK report, advised that:
“Improvements in care may have made a difference to the outcome for almost 80 per cent of cases”.
The Health Secretary plans to subject a thousand stillbirths each year to in-depth investigation by outside experts. As he told the Times:
“Parents deserve a full and fair explanation”.
A spokeswoman for the stillbirth charity Sands acknowledged the importance of coroners in stating that they “play a vital role in providing answers, ensuring that lessons are learnt and mistakes are not repeated.”
Moosa-Duke Solicitors welcome inquests for stillbirths to ensure a thorough investigation happens following these tragedies and where relevant, lessons are learnt for the future.
Moosa-Duke Solicitors are specialists in all aspects of clinical negligence matters. If you or a loved one have concerns regarding the care or treatment you have received, please contact us on 0116 254 7456 for a no obligation conversation.