NHS Resolution’s Early Notification Scheme Progress Report details that only 77% of NHS trusts across the UK have been found to have be notifying families about unforeseen incidents that had occurred to babies during birth, even though the other 23% had been reporting the incidents directly to NHS Resolution.
Each Baby Counts
The Early Notification Scheme (ENS) is designed so that NHS trusts must report maternity incidents which meet the ‘Each Baby Counts’ criteria, which mainly consists of brain damage sustained to babies. Despite this, in only 30% of reported cases were the family invited to be actively involved in the investigation following the incident. These failings are particularly worrying as the ENS is an official scheme overseen by NHS Resolution, offering no end of uncertainty regarding other, less closely monitored schemes used in NHS Trusts. It’s also currently unclear whether the Care & Quality Commissioner have been notified of and about the breaches to the duty of candour.
Learning from Avoidable Brain Injuries
NHS Resolution has published reports about its first year of the Early Notification Scheme, and says that it aims to “ensure that families are better supported whose babies suffer rare, but tragic, avoidable brain injuries at birth.”
Previous to the ENS scheme, the average length of time between an incident occurring and an award for compensation being made was 11.5 years. This being partly due to claims often not being notified to NHS Resolution until four or five years after the incident, with payment not being released until the full extent of the injuries become apparent. Because of this, a key ambition of the Early Notification Scheme is to shorten the time taken to report an incident to a matter of days, facilitating quick identification of the problems, and support being provided to the families when they need it most: the beginning.
AvMA, Action Against Medical Accidents commented that: “AvMA sees great potential in the Early Notification Scheme identifying avoidable harm earlier and reducing or avoiding the costs of litigation in these cases. However, it is vital that families who have experienced maternity incidents have access to independent advice and support as well as comprehensive information about how the scheme works plus legal representation where appropriate as early as possible.”
Ally Taft, Partner at MAG said, “Having complications during your child’s birth is bad enough but not being told about them is inexcusable. I am sure parents would be dismayed to discover that complications regarding their child’s birth were being reported to an organisation to be analysed as a statistic, but not reported to them. Parents need to be aware so that they can be forewarned and supported from the outset.”