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26 March 2019
Coroners could investigate stillbirths – expert comment
It has been announced today that coroners in England and Wales may be given new powers to investigate stillbirths so that parents are more able to get answers and to hopefully help to prevent future baby deaths.
Sophie Fox, a specialist clinical negligence solicitor at law firm JMW, who has represented numerous couples who have suffered a stillbirth, says the new powers could reduce the UK’s stillbirth rate by ensuring lessons are learned where needed.
Sophie commented: “By giving coroners in England and Wales new powers to investigate stillbirths from 37 weeks gestation the UK’s too high stillbirth rate could be reduced by allowing a full, thorough and independent investigation into the cause and identifying any changes to care that need to be made. Stillbirth rates in the UK are still far too high. Allowing investigation by the coroner will assist with gathering data to be used in prevention and hopefully through Regulation 28 Orders, ensure those trusts that are currently failing women and babies change their policies and make pregnancy and birth safer.
“If passed the new powers will give parents who have suffered a stillbirth the same right to an inquest as those who have lost a child after birth. This will help them get answers and find at least some closure as they can frequently be left feeling that the death of their baby did not matter enough for an independent investigation simply because it happened in the womb or during birth.
“For these families the hurt is the same, the grief is the same, they have bought clothes and made plans, but their suffering is not currently seen as being on a par with parents who lose their baby after only minutes of life.
“For stillbirth families, as well as there being no inquest they are also not entitled to a Bereavement Award, as their child is not seen as having “lived”. This places unnecessary anguish on families who are already going through the worst time. They often have to resort to the formal complaints process or involve solicitors to thoroughly investigate what happened to their child.”
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Kelly Hindle or Samantha Meakin on the details below:
D. 0161 828 1868
Note to Editors
JMW Solicitors LLP is a leading Manchester law firm and offers a broad range of legal services to both commercial and private clients.
JMW’s Clinical Negligence team is headed up by leading clinical negligence lawyer, Eddie Jones.