A maternity safety inquiry has been launched by the Parliamentary Health and Social Care Committee.
An announcement of the inquiry was made by the Parliamentary Health and Social Care Committee chair, former Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, on Friday, 24 July.
It comes after mounting public concern about the several hundreds of cases of baby deaths and substandard maternity care over several years being investigated at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust and the 15 baby deaths being investigated at East Kent NHS Trust.
Mr Hunt acknowledged that the NHS has "fantastic" maternity services. But he added:
"If we had the same neonatal death rate as Sweden 1,000 fewer babies would die every year.
"What's happened at Shrewsbury and Telford, and perhaps East Kent, is an indication that high standards have not been spread to every corner of the NHS.
"So this maternity safety inquiry we are launching today is going to look root and branch at how effective and safe our maternity services are, what we do well and what we need to improve to be the safest and highest quality maternity care in the world."
The launch of the inquiry was welcomed by Leigh Day healthcare lawyers Emmalene Bushnell and Suzanne White, who this week added her voice to those calling for a public inquiry into the number of baby deaths and instances of poor maternity care that have come to light at Shrewsbury and East Kent.
Suzanne White said:
"This announcement of an inquiry into maternity safety is absolutely the right thing to do. Families need answers into failures of care that have been exposed and they need to know that when women go into hospital for delivery, that their safety is a top priority and they can be assured of care that is equal to the best in the world.
Emmalene Bushnell, who represents families whose babies died in the care of East Kent NHS Trust, said:
"We have been calling for such an inquiry for many months and this announcement is very welcome and totally necessary.
"The death of a newborn baby is a tragedy that no family should have to face. The fact that substandard care could be a contributing factor to such a tragedy is a terrible indictment of healthcare in Britain.
"Standards of care on maternity units have to improve, and we just hope this inquiry can be that catalyst for change."
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