Jeremy Hunt pledges preterm birth reduction from 8-6% by 2025

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt also announced plans to offer independent coroner investigations to help families grieving from stillbirth

Sleeping premature baby in care unit.

Tommy's News 28/11/2017

The Government has this morning unveiled new plans to reduce the national pre-term birth rate from 8% to 6% in the UK over the next 8 years. During his speech focusing on maternity safety, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt also announced the Governments intention to enable independent investigations to help families grieving from stillbirth. 

The Health Secretary detailed his ambition to halve the rate of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths and severe birth-related brain injuries by 2025- five years earlier than previously announced, a move which could save more than 4,000 lives. Hunt said; 

"The tragic death or life-changing injury of a baby is something no parent should have to bear, but one thing that can help in these agonising circumstances is getting honest answers quickly from an independent investigator,”.

Currently, coroners can only investigate the deaths of babies who show signs of life after being born, and not the deaths of full-term babies who died prior to or during birth.

The Department of Health noted, that all proposals to change the law would be subject to public consultation.

Tommy's Chief Executive, Jane Brewin adds;

“Tommy’s welcomes the Secretary of State for Health’s announcements today aimed at reducing poor pregnancy outcome and helping the NHS to achieve more to make pregnancy and birth safer for everyone. We particularly welcome the target for the reduction in pre-term birth, which, added to the target to reduce stillbirth, puts maternity safety and the wellbeing of parents and their babies at the forefront of what parents can expect from a world leading NHS. I know that parents  will be happy to hear that this Government places such high  a high priority on giving babies the best start in life and we look forward to playing our part to make this an ambition a reality.”

This announcement comes on the back of the current push by the Health Secretary to make the NHS the safest place in the world to give birth. 

Joint Statement from Tommy's, Bliss and Tamba

"Our organisations, Bliss, Tamba and Tommy’s, are delighted that the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt,  has announced the Government’s commitment to reducing preterm birth from 8 to 6% by 2025 in his speech today. In the UK, up to 60,000 babies are born prematurely every year. Premature birth can lead to a baby suffering lifelong health and developmental problems, and has a lasting and significant impact on families. Preterm birth not only puts babies at risk of health problems; it is also the leading cause of neonatal death in the UK.

Our organisations work tirelessly to fund research into the causes of preterm birth, reduce the numbers of babies born too soon, and provide support to families going through this often traumatic experience. There are already models of excellent clinical care in the UK for women at high risk of pre-term birth, but much more needs to be done to ensure that every pregnant woman gets a good standard of care by correctly identifying risk factors and ensuring appropriate action is taken when needed. This means referring women for additional screening when necessary and offering the right treatments for any risks identified; we know that if we do this preterm birth can be reduced. We also know that if women giving birth prematurely do so in the right place, with access to excellent neonatal services on site, their babies are much better off in the long term. Reducing preterm birth and giving every premature baby the best start is not only best for babies and families - it will also save the NHS up to a billion pounds a year.

The Government’s commitment is an important step forward, and we look forward to working with them to make this reduction a reality, sparing parents and their babies the trauma, distress and heartbreak that can go hand in hand with preterm birth". 

Caroline Lee-Davey, Chief Executive, Bliss

Keith Reed, Chief Executive, Tamba (Twins and Multiple Births Association)

Jane Brewin, Chief Executive, Tommy’s

 

Read more information about premature birth here

  • Clinician scanning a pregnant woman

    The London Preterm (premature birth) Surveillance Clinic

    This unique Preterm Surveillance Clinic – funded by Tommy's as part of our research in St Thomas' Hospital, London, has won an NHS Innovation Challenge Prize, for its success in reducing the number of premature births in South East London

  • science lab and equipment

    Tommy's London research centre

    Tommy’s prematurity research centre in London is based at St Thomas’ Hospital, where the charity first began. Opened in 1995, it is the first Maternal and Fetal Research Unit in the UK.

  • Pre-term birth statistics

    Premature birth statistics

    A preterm birth, one that happens before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy, is the number one cause of newborn deaths and the second leading cause of deaths in children under five.

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