mother and baby

Government announces new approach to investigations into stillbirths following recommendations in FLJS Policy Brief

01 December 2017

On Tuesday 28 November, Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt announced new plans to conduct independent investigations into cases of stillbirth, in line with proposals published in a FLJS Policy Brief submitted to the government consultation on the issue earlier this month.

As a result of the new policy, investigations will be handled independently by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch, the new NHS safety investigator led by safety experts, to establish for the families what went wrong and why.

The new approach was recommended in the Policy Brief, entitled The Rapid Resolution and Redress Scheme for Birth Injuries: An Alternative Scheme Design, written by Professor Chris Hodges and Dr Sonia MacLeod of the Oxford Law Faculty, and Adam Sampson, former Chief Legal Ombudsman. The Policy Brief presents an alternative to the current litigation-based approach to compensation due to families as a result of failings in the care they received at the time of the birth.

It proposes a number of changes to the existing approach, including steps to:

  • increase the learning from such incidents in order to drive improvements in clinical and operational practice; and
  • introduce a no-blame culture in order to increase reporting rates and reduce defensiveness.

The Policy Brief was sent to the House of Commons Justice Select Committee and several All Party Parliamentary Groups working on health issues, and was welcomed by Bob Neill MP, Chairman of the Justice Committee, and Drew Lindon, Secretary of the APPG on Baby Loss. 

The response to the public consultation on injuries to babies sustained at birth acknowledged the alternative approach outlined in the Policy Brief, and the full consultation response will be published shortly.

Download the Policy Brief:

The Rapid Resolution and Redress Scheme for Birth Injuries: An Alternative Scheme Design

Christopher Hodges, Sonia Macleod, and Adam Sampson