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Clinical negligence specialist welcomes consultation on inquests for stillbirths

A clinical negligence specialist, who has represented families who have had pregnancies ending in stillbirth following negligent medical care, has welcomed a consultation announced by the government on plans for inquests for all stillbirths.

Posted on 26 March 2019

Suzanne White, head of clinical negligence at law firm Leigh Day, said that inquests to investigate stillbirths could help provide answers to grieving parents and provide learning for hospitals.

Under current provisions coroners can only hold inquests for babies who have shown signs of life after birth. The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch investigates pregnancies that appear to be healthy but end in stillbirth.

The joint consultation by the Department for Health and Social Care and the Ministry for Justice will ask for a wide range of views on proposals for a new system which would give coroners the power to investigate all full-term stillbirths from 37 weeks without having to request permission from any third party. Under the new system the coroner would consider whether any lessons could be learned.

Suzanne White, head of clinical negligence at Leigh Day, said:

“It is encouraging to see that the government has finally proposed these plans which will allow for greater scrutiny of the circumstances surrounding full term still births. I have had a number of clients who have fought desperately for answers after their baby is still born and the proposed plans, if implemented, will give other families an easier route to getting these  answers. Although stillbirth rates are the lowest on record there is still more to be done to ensure lessons are learned in order to provide better care.”