We must do better on baby deaths and injuries - Hunt

From BBC - November 27, 2017

The NHS in England must do better at learning from mistakes to cut the number of baby deaths and injuries in childbirth, the health secretary says.

There are an estimated 1,000 cases a year where babies unexpectedly die or are left with severe brain injury.

That is out of nearly 700,000 births, which, Mr Hunt said, showed the NHS provided safe care for most.

But, he added, all unexplained cases of serious harm or death would now be independently investigated.

The Healthcare Safety Investigations Branch, set up earlier this year, will be tasked with reviewing cases.

Unveiling the new plans, Mr Hunt said he hoped this would help the NHS learn from mistakes as part of the drive to halve the overall rate of stillbirths, deaths and brain injuries by 2025 - five years earlier than previously announced.

But he conceded staffing numbers would also have to increase.

It comes as an NHS-backed review of deaths in cases where the baby was seemingly healthy as labour began found in 80% of cases improvements in care could have prevented the death.

Staffing and heavy workload was highlighted as a key issue by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership report.

The health secretary said there were "not enough staff across the whole NHS" and that would be addressed by a major expansion in training places in the coming years.

'Blame culture'

But he also said there were steps that could be taken now to improve the way the health service dealt with mistakes.


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