Parents excluded from probes into baby deaths

Written by Tom Freeman on 10 June 2016

Too many NHS investigations into baby deaths or brain damage are of ‘poor quality’, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has warned.

In a preliminary report for its UK-wide ‘Each Baby Counts’ inquiry, the professional organisation found around a quarter of NHS investigations were “poor quality” while nearly three-quarters of cases did not involve the child’s parents in a meaningful way.

The aim is to halve the number of babies who die or are left disabled by 2020.


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In 2015, 921 babies were reported to the Each Baby Counts programme. Of these, 71 per cent were classified as having severe brain injuries, 16 per cent early neonatal deaths and 13 per cent stillbirths that occurred during term labour.

The figures are across the UK, but in Scotland the Patient Safety Programme provides a national approach. 

Interestingly, co-principal investigator for the study Professor Alan Cameron, RCOG Vice President for Clinical Quality, is a consultant obstetrician in Glasgow. 

"Only by ensuring that local investigations are conducted thoroughly with parental and external input, can we identify where systems need to be improved," he said.

Involving a parent in their own maternity care is absolutely vital for a baby's chances, as I have found speaking to experts while working on the Holyrood baby. Excluding them when something goes wrong seems particularly cruel, and ignores the contributory factors the parents themselves may have played in the tragedy, however unknowing they were.

In the central picture of Kirsty, for example, she is sleeping in an unsafe position - on her front.

The final ‘Each Baby Counts’ report is due in 2017.

Tom Freeman

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