REPORTS into spikes in the number of deaths of babies have been delayed to next year, the Scottish Government has said.

Three sharp increases in the number of deaths among post-neonatal children – those older than four weeks but less than one-year-old – were seen in recent years; in September 2021, March 2022 and April of this year.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) was tasked with investigating the spikes in 2021 and 2022, while the Scottish Government set up a national hub to monitor the deaths of children and young people.

The HIS report was due out before the end of the year and the national hub’s first annual report was set to be published in the autumn.

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However, according to responses to written questions from the Scottish Liberal Democrats by public health minister Jenni Minto (below), both will be delayed until the new year.

Responding to a question from the party’s leader Alex Cole-Hamilton about the HIS report, Minto said: “The report was scheduled to be published later this year.

“However, HIS have required to carry out additional work, which has impacted on the timeline. It is now expected that the report will be published in the new year.”

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She added that the first data report from the national hub will also be published in the new year.

In a letter to the minister, Cole-Hamilton expressed his “concern that both of these reports are delayed”.

He added: “There can be few more acute priorities for a government and its minsters than uncovering why the death rate among newborn babies has spiked.

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“With that in mind, I would like to ask whether you or your office have liaised with the healthcare inspectorate to determine whether additional resources are necessary for delivering its work to the high standard that parents would expect?

“Given the emotive nature of this subject and the public and media interest that has accompanied it, I would also like to ask that the Scottish Government provide an update to Parliament on this matter so that representatives can ask questions.”