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Hunt aims to halve stillbirth rate by 2030

The rate of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths in England can be cut by 50% by 2030, Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, announced as a new government ambition today.

More than £1 million will be invested in rolling out training packages developed with the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, to ensure staff have the skills and confidence they need.

The plan also includes investing £500,000 to develop a new system and set up a safety investigation unit so staff can “review and learn from every stillbirth and neonatal death” the Department of Health said.

In the online announcement, Hunt said: “The NHS is already a safe place to give birth, but the death or injury of even one new baby or mum is a devastating tragedy which we must do all we can to prevent.

“Countries like Sweden are proof that focusing on these issues can really improve safety - with the help of staff on the frontline, we can improve standards here at home,” the minister added.

NHS trusts will be given £2.24 million to buy monitoring or training equipment to improve safety, and maternity services will be asked to come up with initiatives that can be more widely adopted across the country as part of a national approach. For example appointing maternity safety champions to report to the board and ensure all staff have the right training to enable them to identify the risks and symptoms of perinatal mental health.