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NHS logging baby deaths as stillbirths ‘to avoid scrutiny’

NHS hospitals have claimed that babies born alive were stillborn, a Telegraph investigation has found, prompting accusations they were trying to avoid scrutiny.

Six children who died before they left hospital were wrongly described as stillborn. Several of the children lived for minutes and one lived for five days.

Coroners are not able to carry out inquests into stillbirths, leaving some families unable to get answers until the error was corrected. In one case, an obstetrician told a coroner in Stockport that he had been pressured by an NHS manager to say a baby he had delivered had definitely been stillborn, in order to be “loyal” to the trust. 

His comments are likely to raise fears that some NHS trusts in England have used the stillbirth label to avoid having coroners examine any errors that may have been made by staff. 

The revelations raise questions over transparency at some NHS trusts.

The babies identified by The Telegraph should have been recorded as neonatal deaths, but staff claimed they were stillbirths – babies that never had any signs of life outside the mother’s body, even for a single moment. 

All the NHS trusts that wrongly classified neonatal deaths as stillbirths have apologised to the babies’ parents, and say they have changed their practices. 

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: The Telegraph, 16 October 2022


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