News story

New maternity strategy to reduce the number of stillbirths

Independent investigation to be offered to families who suffer stillbirth or life-changing injuries to their babies, along with other measures to cut stillbirths.


The government has announced a new maternity strategy to reduce the number of stillbirths as part of plans to make the NHS the safest place in the world to give birth.

Families who suffer stillbirth or life-changing injuries to their babies will be offered an independent investigation to find out what went wrong and why. The government is also looking into enabling coroners to investigate stillbirths.

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, the new NHS safety investigator led by safety experts.

The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch 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.

The government is also 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. This would 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.

Published 28 November 2017