Changes to The Law for the Handling of Stillbirths
There are an estimated 1,000 cases a year where babies unexpectedly die or are left with severe brain injury. For new parents this is the most unimaginable trauma.
The Announced Plan from the Health Secretary
The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, yesterday announced plans to enable coroners to investigate deaths where the baby has been classed as stillborn at full-term. Currently they cannot do this and parents who feel that mistakes have been made are forced to take civil legal action. Mr Hunt set out that this is part of a plan to halve deaths, stillbirths and injuries by 2025. This comes alongside a recent NHS review that found in 80% of these cases, improvements in care could have prevented the death. An average of two cases a week are currently being settled and where a baby is going to require care for the rest of their life then these claims are in the millions of pounds.
Ben Davey part of the Clinical Negligence team commented on the proposed reforms saying “This will be a welcome change to the law. It is the most horrifying thing imaginable for a new family to have to deal with and too often parents have unanswered questions after a stillbirth or a birth injury. They feel that there is nowhere for them to turn to in order to get answers as to what has happened and are forced to bring clinical negligence claims. Hopefully part of this new review procedure will see lessons be learnt to ensure that preventable deaths no longer occur.”
Ben Davey is currently instructed in a number of birth injury cases and can be contacted on 01273 249200 for a free initial consultation.