I will make childbirth safer and cut baby deaths by 4,000, vows Jeremy Hunt: Health Secretary announces range of measures to improve care of pregnant women

  • Jeremy Hunt has said more than 4,000 babies will be saved by 2025?
  • The proposals coincide with a damning report exposing UK's childbirth safety
  • 80 per cent of babies who died in childbirth in 2015 could have been saved
  • Number of babies who die significantly higher than in other Western countries

More than 4,000 babies will be saved by 2025 under major plans to make childbirth safer, Jeremy Hunt has pledged.

The Health Secretary has announced a package of measures to improve the care of pregnant women and ensure healthcare staff learn from mistakes.

These proposals coincide with an in-depth report which found that as many as 80 per cent of the babies who died in childbirth in 2015 could have been saved.

Although the safety of childbirth has improved dramatically since the 1990s, the number of babies who die is still significantly higher than in other Western countries.

More than 4,000 babies will be saved by 2025 under major plans to make childbirth safer, Jeremy Hunt has pledged

More than 4,000 babies will be saved by 2025 under major plans to make childbirth safer, Jeremy Hunt has pledged

There were 3,112 stillbirths in 2016, one in every 224 births, worse than in Norway, Denmark, Germany, Spain, and even Croatia, Poland and Estonia.?

NHS maternity wards are struggling to cope with the rising birthrate as well as higher numbers of complex labours due to obesity and an increase in older mothers.

The number of midwives and specialist labour doctors has not kept pace with this demand and many units are very understaffed.

Mr Hunt has set an ambitious target of reducing the number of babies born prematurely who are more likely to die or suffer lifelong complications.

Women at high risk of having a premature birth, including those who are obese, have diabetes or high blood pressure, will be closely monitored throughout their pregnancy.?

If necessary they can be offered medication or stitches to stop them going into labour too early.

Mr Hunt wants to train 12 very senior doctors to specialise in caring for women with underlying medical conditions which make childbirth high risk.?

These include epilepsy, heart conditions and kidney disease, and these patients would be referred for specialist appointments at a top teaching hospital.?

The Health Secretary has announced a package of measures to improve the care of pregnant women and ensure healthcare staff learn from mistakes (file photo)

The Health Secretary has announced a package of measures to improve the care of pregnant women and ensure healthcare staff learn from mistakes (file photo)

The Health Secretary will also start recording data for the number of babies who suffer brain injuries during birth, to flag up poorly performing maternity units.

He will announce the measures today at a conference in London hosted by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Mr Hunt also wants to ensure that all baby deaths are investigated by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch so that lessons can be learned to prevent future tragedies.

He is also expected to call for a more honest culture whereby staff are quick to own up to their mistakes, and he will stress the importance of explaining to grieving parents what went wrong with a birth.

Meanwhile a report by Oxford and Leicester universities uncovered preventable errors in 80 per cent of babies who died in childbirth in 2015. Researchers carried out a detailed review of 78 deaths and highlighted unsafe staffing levels, a lack of monitoring of the baby and delays to interventions such as caesareans.?

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