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New Powers to Investigate Stillbirths

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Bereaved parents who suffer a stillbirth would gain answers from an independent inquest into their baby’s death under plans to improve the way such tragedies are investigated.

The move has been welcomed by professionals and our team of solicitors who often deal with grieving parents and it is part of wider plans to help prevent future stillbirths and improve maternal care.

The government has launched a consultation on proposals to give coroners the power to investigate all full-term stillbirths – which would help provide bereaved parents with vital information on what went wrong and why, while ensuring any mistakes are identified to prevent future deaths.

“What we find in many cases when bereaved parents come to us is that they need an explanation of what went wrong and in these sorts of cases doctors cannot definitively explain what caused their child to be still born,” said medical negligence solicitor, Jacqueline White.

“Without a cause of death and a death certificate many parents are left with questions that will always remain unanswered and this ultimately hinders their grieving process.  The proposed coronal investigations are to be welcomed as they would give parents a sense of closure, as much as this is ever possible in such sad cases.  At the same time it would highlight any failures of care with a view to ultimately facilitating patient safety for future families,” she added.

Investigation into Stillbirths

At present, coroners can only hold inquests for babies who have shown signs of life after being born. They cannot investigate where the pregnancy appeared healthy but the baby was stillborn. In these circumstances the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch must investigate the death.

Some parents have raised concerns about the inconsistency of investigations and have called for a more transparent and independent system.

Ministers are therefore asking for views on whether coroners should be able to investigate stillbirths. As judicial office holders, coroners would not only be able to provide parents with much needed answers but also make recommendations to prevent future avoidable deaths.

In addition, the proposed system will ensure that both bereaved parents and medical staff are involved at all stages of the process to improve the care on offer.


For advice, help and guidance on any medical negligence issue please call the team at Pearson Solicitors on 0161 785 3500




Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

Written by Jacqueline White


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