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Written Statements

Volume 707: debated on Wednesday 26 January 2022

Written Statements

Wednesday 26 January 2022

Health and Social Care

Special Health Authority for Independent Maternity Investigations

I wish to inform the House of the Government’s plans to establish a special health authority under secondary legislation to continue the maternity investigation programme, which is currently a function of the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch.

Plans to establish the Health Services Safety Investigations Body as a non-departmental public body are contained in the Health and Care Bill 2021. The Health Services Safety Investigations Body will take forward the work of the current Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch’s national programme once fully operational—expected to be 1 April 2023. The scope of the Health Services Safety Investigations Body’s investigations in the Bill does not include the current Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch’s maternity investigations programme. This is because conducting investigations under “safe space” is a key element of the new Health Services Safety Investigations Body. The maternity investigation programme investigations do not follow “safe space” principles.

The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch became responsible for conducting independent investigations relating to intrapartum stillbirth, early neonatal death, or severe brain injury diagnosed in the first seven days of life and also maternal deaths—approximately 1,000 every year—on 1 April 2018. In 2020-21, the maternity investigation programme completed 1,024 reports and made more than 1,500 safety recommendations to individual NHS trusts addressing a wide array of issues.

The Government consider that independent, standardised, family-centred investigations should continue beyond April 2023 once the new Health Services Safety Investigations Body is established. The new special health authority will:

provide independent, standardised, and family-focused investigations of maternity cases that provide families with answers to their questions about why their loved ones died or were seriously injured;

provide learning to the health system at local, regional and national level via reports for the purpose of improving clinical and safety practices in trusts to prevent similar incidents and deaths occurring;

analyse the incoming data from investigations to identify key trends and provide system-wide learning in these areas including identifying where improvements are being made or there is lack of improvement;

be a system expert in standards for maternity investigations and support trusts to improve local investigations; and

collaborate with system partners to escalate safety concerns and share intelligence.

The special health authority will be established for up to five years from 2022-23 to enable maximum learning to be achieved and to equip NHS trusts with the expertise, resources, and capacity to take on maternity safety incident investigations in the future.

Learning from these investigations is key for meeting the Government’s commitment to “make the NHS the best place in the world to give birth through personalised, high-quality support”; and our national maternity safety ambition to halve the 2010 rates of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths and brain injuries in babies occurring during or soon after birth by 2025.

[HCWS560]

Prime Minister

United Kingdom-European Union Parliamentary Partnership Assembly: UK Delegation Appointments

Article 11 of the UK-EU trade and co-operation agreement states: “The European Parliament and the Parliament of the United Kingdom may establish a Parliamentary Partnership Assembly”—consisting of Members of both Parliaments —“as a forum to exchange views on the partnership.” In December, the House of Commons and House of Lords endorsed the establishment of the assembly. Both Houses agreed that the procedures currently applying to the nomination, support and funding of delegations to other treaty-based parliamentary assemblies will apply.

This statement sets out the United Kingdom delegation to the UK-EU Parliamentary Partnership Assembly. The Government also take this opportunity to congratulate Roberta Metsola on her election as the new President of the European Parliament.

The UK delegation is:

Full representatives

Stuart Anderson MP; Lord Bach; Simon Baynes MP; Hilary Benn MP (Vice Chair); Andrew Bowie MP; Baroness Crawley; Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP; Lord Gilbert of Panteg; Lord Godson; Sir Robert Goodwill MP; Lord Hannan of Kingsclere; Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town; Sir Oliver Heald MP (Leader and Co-Chair); Sir Mark Hendrick MP; Rupa Huq MP; Darren Jones MP; The Earl of Kinnoull (Vice Chair); Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate; Andrea Leadsom MP; Lord Liddle; Sir Tony Lloyd MP; Baroness Ludford; Baroness Mobarik; David Morris MP; David Mundell MP; Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne; Neil Parish MP; Lord Ricketts; Chris Skidmore MP; Karin Smyth MP; Lord Teverson; Kelly Tolhurst MP; Valerie Vaz MP; Phillipa Whitford MP and Mike Wood MP.

Substitutes

Baroness Bull; James Daly MP; Marsha De Cordova MP; Dame Angela Eagle MP; Baroness Foster of Oxton; Kate Griffiths MP; Luke Hall MP; Sally-Ann Hart MP; Robin Millar MP; Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick; Alyn Smith MP and Baroness Suttie.

[HCWS560]

Work and Pensions

Help To Claim

The Department for Work and Pensions has announced today, on gov.uk, the outcome of the future support offer grant competition. The link to the announcement can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/funding-boost-to-citizens-advice-to-deliver-help-to-claim-universal-credit-support

Citizens Advice, in partnership with Citizens Advice Scotland, were successful and will deliver independent support from April 2022 following a further £21.3 million investment. The provision will continue to cover England, Scotland and Wales for 12 months, and ensures that free confidential and impartial support is available to help people make a new universal credit claim and manage their claim, up to receiving their first correct payment.

The future support offer name, used during the competition to indicate that DWP was looking for future provision, will revert to Help to Claim. The decision to retain the name reflects the fact that Help to Claim is a recognisable brand, both to people who will be using the support and to the staff who will be providing that support.

Since April 2019, Help to Claim has supported over half a million people, with nine in 10 people rating their overall experience as good or very good and would recommend it to friends and family.

From April 2022, the support will be provided through telephony and digital channels. For those individuals who are unable to access support via these channels, they will be able to go to their local jobcentre, where jobcentre staff will identify the right support to meet their needs. This support is already in place and available to those individuals who choose to seek support from the Department directly in making a claim to universal credit.

The Department is committed to providing the best possible support for all our claimants, including the most vulnerable in society, in both making and maintaining their claim.

[HCWS561]