NHS Admits that Poor Reporting is a Risk to Patient Safety
NHS Resolution (previously the NHS Litigation Authority) has conducted a review of 50 claims occurring between 2012 and 2016 finding that birth injury rates have remained static, suggesting that lessons are not being learned. They found evidence that poor quality, serious incident investigations at a local level after negligence in maternity care. Patients and families were involved in only 40% of investigations and external reviewers were used in only 4% of cases.
The claims have a potential liability of more than £390m, not including the defence costs and wider healthcare costs.
‘The quality of SI investigations has repeatedly been found to be poor with very little or no training for investigators across the NHS,’ said the report, calling for a national standardised and accredited training programme for all staff conducting serious incident investigations.
Obstetric claims accounted for 10% of the 10,686 claims received under NHS Resolution’s indemnity schemes in 2016/17 but accounted for 50% of the value. This is because birth injury claims often result in the most serious disabilities. The need for life long care following injuries such as cerebral palsy gives rise to long term settlement where care is required for the remainder of a patient’s life.
NHS Resolution says it has already sought to change the culture of how claims are defended. NHS trusts are required to notify the organisation of all cases of possible severe brain injury within 30 days.
Helen Vernon, chief executive of NHS Resolution, added: ‘Negligent care resulting in cerebral palsy has a devastating and lifelong effect on the child, their family and carers. Whilst thankfully, these cases are very rare, they can be prevented. What we have learned from these events and the steps that we and our partners have committed to as a result, represents a vital step towards preventing future harm.’
These announcements are welcomed by all lawyers investigating birth injuries. Everyone wants to see lessoned learned and lawyers see some of the worst cases where injury arises from negligent care in delivery. It’s important that anyone feeling that negligence did occur during a delivery considers investigating if a claim can be made. The damages that can be recovered are entirely devoted to the specialist care that will be needed in the future lifting the burden from other areas where budgets continue to be stretched and cut.
We look forward to the day when birth injuries no longer occur and hope lessons will be learned to enable this to happen.
If you want to investigate a birth injury claim our team at Coffin Mew has the specialist skills needed.