'As the UK’s leading baby charities we welcomed the Conservative Party’s manifesto pledge to reduce infant mortality.

'Figures released today show how urgently action is needed to deliver this pledge. 15 babies die every day in the UK, and new reports have found that a significant number of deaths and cases of harm are avoidable. They also show large, unacceptable variations in death rates between regions.

'Despite a welcome drop in term stillbirths since 2013 there is much further to go to reduce these deaths; meanwhile early stillbirths and the neonatal death rate remain almost static. Two thirds of stillbirths and neonatal deaths are linked to prematurity, where an urgent focus is needed to better understand the causes of preterm birth and how it can be prevented.

'Without concentrated efforts to address challenges across maternity and neonatal services, including a lack of staff, poor access to training, and units that are stretched beyond capacity, the Government’s pledge to reduce infant deaths cannot be met. Their own National Ambition, set out in 2015, to halve rates of stillbirths and neonatal deaths by 2030 needs to be expanded to include a reduction in preterm birth to be as effective as possible.

'We call on Jeremy Hunt MP, as returning Health Secretary, to prioritise delivery of this manifesto pledge and to drive forward improvement programmes across England’s maternity and neonatal services in order to do so. We also call on each of the devolved nations to support and prioritise similar programmes within their own health services.

'Significant action must be taken now – 15 babies dying each day in the UK is simply unacceptable.'

Yours sincerely, Marcus Green, CEO, Action on Pre-Eclampsia Caroline Lee-Davey, CEO, Bliss Ann Chalmers, CEO, Child Bereavement UK Munira Oza, Director, Ectopic Pregnancy Trust Jane Plumb MBE, CEO, Group B Strep Support Francine Bates, CEO, The Lullaby Trust Clea Harmer, CEO, Sands Jane Brewin, CEO, Tommy’s Keith Reed, CEO, Twins and Multiple Births Association