New powers proposed to investigate stillbirths
25 March 2019, 23:16 | Updated: 26 March 2019, 03:09
Coroners could get new powers to investigate the deaths of stillborn babies.
The changes would apply to stillbirths after 37 weeks of pregnancy in England and Wales.
A consultation has been launched on the government proposals, which would change the current system where coroners can only hold inquests for babies who showed signs of life after being born.
Health minister Jackie Doyle-Price said: "We want to do everything we can to make pregnancy safer, by continually learning to improve the care on offer so fewer people have to experience the terrible tragedy of losing a child and those who do get the answers and support they deserve.
"We want to do everything we can to make pregnancy safer, by continually learning to improve the care on offer so fewer people have to experience the terrible tragedy of losing a child and those who do get the answers and support they deserve.
"Rates of stillbirths in England are the lowest on record, but we're committed to delivering on our ambition in the NHS Long-Term Plan to accelerate action to halve this number by 2025.
"This is a complex issue and it's important we get it right by listening carefully to those who are affected by these issues, so I urge everybody to have their say on this consultation.
"By sharing your experiences, you can ensure any decision we make puts women, loved ones and their babies first."
Justice minister Edward Argar said: "A stillbirth is a tragedy which has a profound effect upon bereaved families. We must ensure that every case is thoroughly and independently investigated.
"These proposals would ensure that bereaved parents have their voices heard in the investigation, and allow lessons to be learnt which would help to prevent future stillbirths."
The stillbirth rate in England and Wales has fallen by nearly a fifth (19.2%) since 2007 and rates in 2017 were the lowest on record, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The consultation closes on 18 June.
(c) Sky News 2019: New powers proposed to investigate stillbirths