Coroners could investigate deaths of stillborn babies
27th March 2019
The Government has launched a consultation on proposals which would mean that Coroners would have the power to hold inquests into the deaths of babies who are stillborn. This would apply for babies born after 37 weeks.
Historically, Coroners have only been able to hold inquests when a baby has shown signs of life after being born, but the inquest has been narrow in scope. Parents have been campaigning for many years for this to be overturned, such as Jack and Sarah Hawkins whose daughter Harriet was stillborn in April 2016.
An important part of the Coronial process is preventing future deaths and it is argued that, by allowing inquests into the deaths of stillborn babies, learning points could be identified which would prevent this happening to other families.
Rates of stillbirths are at their lowest on record, but clearly this is a time which is very difficult for families and it is hoped that the inquest process will help them to answer questions and come to conclusions about what happened.
The consultation will run for 12 weeks and will close on 18 June 2019. Any proposal would only apply in England and Wales. Click here for a link to the consultation.
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