Baby loss certificates to be formally introduced in Northern Ireland: Derry MLA welcomes progress

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SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan said he is encouraged that a scheme to officially recognise pregnancy loss before 24 weeks will be introduced in Northern Ireland.

Earlier this week, the Assembly backed a motion to introduce a scheme and to secure local perinatal and paediatric pathology services.

Since 2019, bereaved parents in Northern Ireland must travel to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool for a post-mortem on their child.

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The Foyle MLA said: “In my years campaigning for improvements in paediatric pathology and early baby loss, I’ve met with hundreds of parents who felt their loss or the topic of miscarriage remained taboo, hushed. While their experiences and views differed, all of those I’ve spoken to recognised the value in a certification scheme.

Foyle SDLP MLA Mark H. Durkan. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.Foyle SDLP MLA Mark H. Durkan. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Foyle SDLP MLA Mark H. Durkan. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

“Losing a child is a pain that no parent should ever have to endure- and it’s important to note that grief is not determined by the length of pregnancy and nor should the official recognition.”

Mr Durkan said that for so many, the first glimpse of those blue lines symbolises the beginnings of a life, a child for whom they see a future and tell their loved ones about. Yet one in four families will lose a baby that isn’t recognised outside the confines of the hospital walls.

“Recognition would provide an acknowledgment of the significance of these precious lives and would honour the grief of the families who mourn them. I also recognise the pressing need to improve perinatal and paediatric pathology services. Since 2019, post-mortem examinations have had to be carried out in England due to a lack of specialist staff. It should never have reached this point. Five years ago I’d received assurances from the Health Permanent Secretary that work was under way to seek a cross border solution. It’s unforgivable that to date, there’s been no progress.

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“I hope that with the backing of the Assembly, the Health Minister will now take steps to recruit specialist pathologists and introduce an early pregnancy loss certificate scheme. It’s important that every parent receives the compassion, care, the support they deserve in their time of need,” Mr Durkan added.

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