Parents need more input into investigations into baby deaths

Posted by Patricia Wakeford on

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The report by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists into how problems during labour are investigated makes for troubled reading.  This is a preliminary report, with the final version due in 2017. This was considered on BBC health here

The inquiry, Each Baby Counts, has been set up to ensure lessons are learned when something goes wrong.

Currently, stillbirths, neonatal deaths and brain injuries occurring due to incidents in labour are investigated at a local level. The Each Baby Counts project team will, for the first time, bring together the results of these local investigations to understand the bigger picture and share the lessons learned.

Out of 800,000 births after at least 37 weeks of pregnancy, in the UK in 2015, there were:

  • 655 babies classified as having severe brain injuries
  • 147 neonatal deaths (within seven days of birth)
  • 119 stillbirths

In all cases, the babies had been healthy before labour began. These are shocking figures. The aim is by 2020 to halve the number of babies who die or are left severely disabled.

Stories are being collated from families who have suffered the loss of a baby or have child with a severe brain injury. There is a secure online reporting system where cases can be notified.

I have acted for many clients who have gone through the trauma of losing a baby. They tell me that they want to know what went wrong so that lessons can be learnt to prevent other families experiencing the same devastation. It is disappointing to read that nearly three quarters of parents felt they were not involved in the review in a meaningful way.

It is important to considerably reduce the amount of such injuries and mortality. This will lessen the devastation families have to go through, the cost of caring for these babies for life and the number of clinical negligence claims; an important cost saving for the NHS. These claims will be the only way that many families can afford the level of care that their baby will require.

I am sure that we all look forward to seeing the report in 2017. I hope that action is taken before then to improve the figures detailed above.

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About the Author

Photograph of Patricia Wakeford

Patricia is a Senior Associate, in our Clinical Negligence team, and is also a qualified midwife with many years of experience working in the NHS.

Patricia Wakeford
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023 8085 7310

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