Ministers in Northern believe implementing new baby loss certificates may help grieving parents

Ministers in Northern believe implementing new baby loss certificates may help grieving parents

MINISTERS in Northern Ireland are currently considering the introduction of new baby loss certificates for parents who lose a baby within the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Launched in Britain in February of this year, the document is designed to formally recognise the death of the unborn baby.

Current legislation in the North means the death of a baby is only officially recognised if it occurs after the 24th week of pregnancy.

Speaking after a Private Members’ motion in the Northern Ireland Assembly, Finance Minister Dr Caoimhe 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 colleagues in the Department of Health to consider how a Baby Loss Certificate scheme could be implemented here.”

Ministers Swann and Archibald are currently considering implementing the certificates

She added: “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.”

The new certificates, which are voluntary rather than compulsory, have been available in England since February, where they are official but not legal documents.

“Losing a baby is an immensely painful experience for any family to have to endure,” Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Robin Swann said this week.

“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.”

He added: “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.”