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Newhall mum who lost newborn son after just 17 minutes welcomes plans for investigations into baby deaths

They want to share their heartbreaking story

Donna and Brad are pictured with baby Blake and his big sister Chloe

A Newhall family left devastated when their newborn baby died has welcomed plans to offer the parents of stillborn tots independent investigations into their cases.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced the move which the Government hopes will help save lives as detailed picture of why some children are stillborn is built up.

Donna Willday and her partner Brad Gibson, were left heartbroken last year when their son Blake died 17 minutes after birth.

Now Donna, 37, has shared her thoughts on the proposals amid fears there is not enough being done to support bereaved families.

Donna, who is also mum to Chloe, 19, said: "Blake was not stillborn but was classed as a neonatal death.

"Having been in that position and going through that pain I think it is too late for those it has already happened to and may not give them any comfort. But if it could help stop it from happening to other people, then I am all for it; in this day and age it shouldn’t happen as much as it does."

Donna had endured four miscarriages before she and her partner Brad, 42, found out they were expecting Blake. After a happy and healthy pregnancy, the pair were left heartbroken when their baby boy was born nine weeks prematurely and, despite doctors doing all they could, he died.

Now, 11 months after the tragedy, they are sharing their story in the hope of raising awareness about the devastating impact of neonatal death.

Baby Blake lived for just 17 minutes

The Department of Health has said a NHS safety investigator, led by experts, will standardise investigations of cases of unexplained severe brain injury, intrapartum stillbirths, early neo-natal deaths and maternal deaths in England, sharing the findings to prevent future tragedies.

Mr Hunt will also highlight his plans for the Government to work with the Welsh government and other stakeholders as it looks closely into giving coroners powers to conduct investigations into stillbirths.

At the moment, 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.

All proposals to change the law would be subject to public consultation, the Department of Health said.

And in a bid to save more than 4,000 lives, he will also outline how the Government wants to halve the rate of stillbirths, neo-natal and maternal deaths and severe birth-related brain injuries by 2025.

While Donna admits that the investigations may aid some families, she said she would first like to see Mr Hunt change the fetal viability rate to 22 weeks instead of 24.

She said: "I think lowering the viability rate makes sense because it can help a lot of babies but it should be done sooner rather than later. In my opinion Jeremy Hunt should also focus on helping charities such as Sands and Tommy’s with research to stop neo-natal deaths and stillborn deaths happening in the first place."

Dr Clea Harmer, chief executive of Sands, a stillbirth and neonatal death charity, welcomed the announcement of independent investigations and said it is a step change which could potentially save more babies' lives.

She said: "For too long, parents have not been consulted and lessons have not been learned despite research repeatedly finding that many deaths are preventable and are related to the quality of care mothers and babies receive.

"Parents must be assured of a high-quality investigation, with their voices at the heart of any review into the death of their baby.

"This will require leadership at each trust and health board to commit to learning from every death in an open and honest way, and NHS staff must have the support, training and time to conduct reviews rigorously."

Jane Brewin, chief executive of charity Tommy's, welcomed the Government's target to reduce the number of premature births. Added to the target to reduce stillbirth, she said this "puts maternity safety and the wellbeing of parents and their babies at the forefront of what parents can expect from a world-leading NHS".

She said: "I know that parents will be happy to hear that this Government places such a high priority on giving babies the best start in life and we look forward to playing our part to make this ambition a reality."

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