Brain injuries included in government’s new maternity strategy

The Department of Health has announced a new maternity strategy to reduce the number of stillbirths and offer independent investigation to families who suffer stillbirth or life-changing injuries to their babies.

Department of Health maternity plan
Department of Health
It has produced a film explaining the strategy. This states:
  • “From next year, all cases of stillbirth, neonatal death and suspected brain injury meeting the Each Baby Counts criteria will be independently investigated”; and
  • “We’ll set out, for the first time, a definition of ‘brain injuries occurring during or soon after birth’. This will allow us to measure progress on this element of the national maternity safety ambition.”
Under the plans, hundreds of stillbirth, early neonatal death and severe brain injury cases each year will be referred to the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB), the new NHS safety investigator led by safety experts. The HSIB will standardise investigations of cases so that the NHS learns as quickly as possible from what went wrong and shares the learning to prevent future tragedies. This will start in April. The government is bringing forward from 2030 to 2025 the ambition to halve rates of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths, and brain injuries occurring during or soon after birth. It says this will save more than 4,000 thousand lives. Health Secretary Jeremy 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 in these agonising circumstances 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. “Countless mothers and fathers who have suffered like this say that the most important outcome for them is making sure lessons are learnt so that no-one else has to endure the same heartbreak. ”These important changes will help us to make ‎that promise in the future.” Other announcements made in the film include:
  • making it easier for families to access compensation without going through the courts;
  • launching a new education programme for healthcare professionals working in this area; and creating a national online platform for maternity safety champions.
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