Ministers pledge to work together on baby loss certificate scheme

Two Stormont ministers have pledged to work together in progressing a baby loss certificate scheme in Northern Ireland.

Finance Minister Caoimhe Archibald said she would be liaising with Health Minister Robin Swann over the certificates for parents who have lost a baby during pregnancy before 24 weeks.

Under current legislation, the death of a baby is only officially recognised if it occurs after the 24th week of pregnancy.

The UK Government launched a baby loss certificate scheme earlier this year designed to recognise the grief of parents who lose a baby early in a pregnancy has been launched.

The voluntary scheme offers those who experience a loss pre-24 weeks’ gestation a certificate to formally recognise the devastating impact.

The Stormont Assembly discussed a private members’ motion on the issue on Monday evening.

Ms Archibald said: “I want to pay tribute to those women and parents, who have gone through the heartache of losing a baby during pregnancy, for shining a light on this issue and for sharing their own stories publicly to encourage change.

“Officials in the General Registration Office, within my department, will be working with working with colleagues in the Department of Health to consider how a baby loss certificate scheme could be implemented here.

“While a certificate will not reverse or undo the pain which such a loss inflicts on women and families, the introduction of a voluntary certificate scheme may in some way help parents to process their loss.

“I am committed to working together with the Health Minister to take this scheme forward.”

Mr Swann said “Losing a baby is an immensely painful experience for any family to have to endure.

“I am also acutely aware that losing a baby in the early stages of pregnancy without the opportunity to officially document the loss can further compound the grief for some parents.

“Parents and families who very sadly find themselves in this position can be assured that my department is continuing to engage with counterparts in the Department of Health and Social Care in England on this important matter.

“The scheme has just recently been introduced there so we are still in the early stages of this process but we are committed to finding a viable solution that will work for Northern Ireland.

“I am grateful to have the Finance Minister’s backing and my officials will work with the Department of Finance on the next steps.”

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