It has recently been reported that hundreds of babies are dying needlessly each year in NHS hospitals and that around £2 billion has been paid out in compensation as a result of blunders on maternity wards.
In 2015, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists launched Each Baby Counts, a five-year initiative to reduce the number of such tragic events by 50 per cent by 2020. In June this year, the initiative published some findings now that they were half way through the five year period and unfortunately revealed that ‘between 500 and 800 babies die or are left with severe brain injury’ each year. They added that this is not because they were born too soon, too small or with an abnormality but, because of ‘sub-standard care’.
Questions are now being asked about why so many babies are being harmed in the health service of such a wealthy country and why babies fare worse in the UK than in comparable countries.
Clea Harmer, chief executive at Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity has commented that “the death of a baby is profoundly painful for families and for a baby to reach labour at the end of pregnancy and yet to suffer harm that might have been avoided, is devastating.”
These tragedies also come at a huge cost to the NHS, for example, the figures released for 2016-2017 show that out of the 10,686 clinical negligence claims against the NHS, 10% were obstetric cases. However, out of the £4.37 billion spent on those claims, 50% of those costs were on claims for babies who had suffered brain damage at birth.
In recent years a former chief executive of the NHS Litigation Authority (now NHS Resolution – the Insurer for the NHS) has commented that it was time ‘to address the fact that the clinical negligence bill is rising and the only way to reduce it is to invest in safer NHS care’.
Ally Taft, Partner at the Medical Accident Group, said that “when the cost of claims regarding injuries at birth is running into the billions, resulting in misery and upset to the child and their family, you would think that there would be more investment from the NHS to look into why this was happening and into the ways in which they can prevent it. These sorts of cases are some of the most devastated claims to deal with as often the child would have been able to live a completely normal independent life but for the “substandard care”. I hope that in the future the number of cases of this nature are greatly reduced and that the NHS learn from the mistakes made previously.“
If you or a loved one have suffered an injury as a result of a birth injury Medical Accident Group can help. Our experienced and dedicated team, whose knowledge of clinical negligence and personal injury law is extensive, can support you through the process of making a claim and seeking justice. We can advise on issues from brain injury or birth injury to surgical and medical errors and accidents at work. Call us free on 0800 050 1668