brain damage after birth, birth complication

NHS working to prevent avoidable brain injuries at birth

  • December 3, 2019
  • Better care for brain-injured babies’ families

    The NHS Resolution’s Early Notification Scheme appears to be improving the way families whose babies have suffered avoidable brain injuries at birth are being treated by hospitals, with more information being available at an earlier stage.

    The scheme has just completed its first year and results have been released – it was set up in 2017 to encourage improvements in maternity and neonatal care and to ensure that families are given full support.

    Support following avoidable brain injury

    Before the scheme began, it took, on average, more than 11 years for families to be awarded compensation. Even in cases where the full extent of injuries to the baby was apparent, it would often take up to five years for claims to be notified to NHS Resolution and compensation to be paid.

    Having identified the long delays experienced by babies’ families, a key ambition of NHS Resolution was to reduce these timescales and provide better support to those families.

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    The results of the first year of the scheme show that families are now being provided with a detailed explanation of events leading to their child’s avoidable brain injury, an apology and, where suitable, sign-posting to legal representation. In addition, more practical support is being given to families in the form of financial support for clinical and respite care and, where necessary, psychological support.

    As a result of these attempts to bring timescales down, 24 families have now been provided with early admissions of liability within 18 months of childbirth.

    Preventing brain injury at birth

    As well as reporting on improvements, the report examines the prevention of future incidents of brain injury at birth. The report has identified several clinical issues, including limited support to staff, issues with foetal monitoring, impacted foetal head and/or difficult delivery of the head during a Caesarean section (C-section) and concurrent maternal medical emergencies during labour.

    In order to prevent future incidents arising as a result of the identified issues, the following recommendations have been made:

    • Full and open conversations should take place between the hospital and the family of a baby who requires treatment and separation from them for a potentially severe brain injury, including an apology and details of the investigation process.
    • Support should be offered to NHS staff involved in incidents.
    • Research into foetal monitoring should be prioritised to encourage an evidence-based approach.
    • Improved training should be provided in respect of impacted foetal head and delivery of the foetal head during C-section.
    • Links should be made with existing national programmes to improve monitoring and detection of maternal deterioration in labour.
    • Collaboration between professional teams should improve resuscitation and immediate neonatal care for new-born babies.

    Charlotte Measures of Medical Accident Group said: “Whilst it is encouraging to see NHS Resolution taking a proactive approach to avoidable brain injuries to new-borns, it is, of course, concerning that these preventative measures are only recently being introduced and families often continue to suffer without support.”

    If you or a family member have suffered from avoidable injuries during childbirth, Medical Accident Group can help. We have a team of dedicated clinical negligence solicitors who will guide you through the process of making a claim. Call the team now on 0800 050 1668 or email us at info@medicalaccidentgroup.co.uk.

    Charlotte Measures charlotte.measures@medicalaccidentgroup.co.uk

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