The Government has today (26 March) launched a consultation on proposals to give coroners the power to investigate all full-term stillbirths – which would help provide parents with vital information on what went wrong and why, while ensuring any mistakes are identified to prevent future deaths.
The joint consultation from the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Health and Social Care seeks a wide range of views, from bereaved parents, the organisations that support them or that provide advice to pregnant women, researchers, health professionals and healthcare providers, as well as those working for coronial services.
Sands has welcomed the launch of the consultation and will be responding to the MOJ, based on the views of more than 500 parents who took part in a Sands consultation in 2017.
Kate Mulley, Director of Research, Education and Policy at Sands said:
“At Sands bereaved parents often tell us how vitally important it is to understand why their baby died and that the best legacy for their baby is to ensure that lessons are learned to prevent future deaths. We believe their views must be taken into account when determining any changes in the role of coroners. This consultation by the Ministry of Justice raises important questions and we would encourage anyone affected to make their views known.”
Sands recognises that the inquest process will not be appropriate in many cases of stillbirth: coronial investigation into stillbirths should happen in close consultation with parents, and in ensuring the rights of some bereaved parents it is important to avoid unintended negative consequences for other parents who may not want an inquest.
Taking on board the views of any public consultation before this law is adopted will be key to ensuring a clear pathway is set out for these investigations so that coronial processes, which can be extremely prolonged and painful for families, do not cause additional emotional harm to bereaved parents.
The consultation will run for 12 weeks, closing on 18 June 2019 and can be found here: https://consult.justice.gov.uk/