Health Minister Calls for Improvements in Obstetric Care in the UK

Here at Lanyon Bowdler, the clinical negligence team are passionate about our work and are committed to obtaining the best possible outcomes for our clients. Inevitably, this means winning compensation for our clients to try, as far as possible, to put them back into the position they would have been in but for the negligence.


The same mistakes happening

Many of our clients recognise that no amount of compensation will ever bring back a loved one, rid them of a disability they will suffer from for the rest of their lives, or reverse an injury they have suffered and for those clients, there is often a bigger objective to bringing a claim. That is to ensure no one else goes through the same experience they did. That is why, with each claim we bring, we hope lessons can be learnt by the healthcare professionals involved.

It is disheartening therefore for us to see the same mistakes happening again and again to different clients, sometimes at the same hospital trust. This tells us that lessons are not being learnt. We have many cases arising from very similar facts and we commonly receive instructions from mothers whose children have sadly suffered a catastrophic brain injury during their delivery.

These mistakes not only change the lives of mother and child but also the rest of the family. A child who is injured at birth is usually dependent for life and therefore requires life-long care. These failings are consequently costing the NHS millions of pounds and it is common to see headlines detailing the huge amounts NHS Trusts are paying out each year to claimants.

Improvements will need to be made

This is why recent comments made by the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt are to be welcomed. Mr Hunt has recognised that there needs to be a move away from a culture of blame, and instead the focus needs to be on making improvements within the healthcare profession and learning from mistakes. Mr Hunt has highlighted this would reduce the number of deaths and brain injuries suffered in childbirth and by extension, the number of claims brought and the amounts paid out in compensation.

These comments follow on from a report published earlier this month by the National Maternity and Perinatal Audit (NMPA), which identified where improvements could be made in the care given to women and children in maternity services across the nation.

The report highlights that whilst most women have an uneventful birth, there were variations across the county. The NMPA identified that approximately one in every 80 babies requires breathing support upon delivery and out of 70,000 births each year, 1,000 babies die or are left with a severe brain injury.

Such mistakes are being made due to pressure on the NHS and a lack of staff. Mr Hunt has helpfully conceded that improvements will need to be made here through recruitment. 
It is hoped that through a change in attitude and facing issues head on, improvements will be made in the healthcare profession, leading to fewer mistakes and the aim of ourselves and our clients, to prevent the same injuries happening to someone else will be achieved.