It is no surprise that the cost of birth injuries is so high. When things go badly wrong during childbirth, newborn infants can suffer from oxygen deprivation, which can cause brain damage. Victims can have lifelong care needs – recently, Samantha Singleton-Parkes, 10, from Brightlingsea, received £4.5 million in medical negligence compensation after suffering from cerebral palsy due to a serious brain injury sustained shortly after birth, with this money going towards her long-term health and care requirements.
The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee says that almost one-fifth of the amount of money spent by NHS Trusts on maternity services is spent on clinical negligence cover, with this equating to around £700 per birth. Maternity claims represent around one-third of all clinical negligence claims and have increased in frequency by around 80% in the last five years.
Furthermore, while England’s healthcare systems generally compare well with those in other developed countries, this is not the case for maternity services, with more babies born stillborn or dying within seven days in England than in the other nations of the UK and than in many European countries.
The Committee recommended that NHS England and the Department of Health collaborate to investigate how to deal with the main causes of medical negligence claims from maternity departments so they can prevent the current volume of claims from continuing into the future. It also recommended that they investigate what NHS Trusts are failing to reach the standards other Trusts reach to ensure that tragic mistakes do not occur. It reconfirmed that people who have received poor care in maternity services should have the right to claim compensation.
However, it is unsure whether the Committee’s recommendations will see it become harder for people who have suffered birth injuries to claim compensation – the government has not made it a secret that it wishes to clamp down on ‘compensation culture’, and the Committee calling for the Department and the NHS to look into stopping claims from “coming forward” may be another element of this ambition.
Responding to the Committee report, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) said that MPs should focus on preventing accidents in the delivery room. The injuries people can sustain during birth can lead to them requiring care for their rest of their lives, APIL President Matthew Stockwell said.
He noted that babies that suffer from brain damage will not be able to clothe, feed or bathe themselves and will not live the life they would have otherwise enjoyed. Therefore, it is unsurprising that birth injury medical negligence claims can be worth millions of pounds.
The way to prevent birth injury claims is to “cut off the problem at its source” by delivering women and babies with proper care and treatment during birth, he added.
If you would like to find out more information about making a birth injury compensation claim, contact Clearwater Solicitors today! Just dial 08000 430 430 to speak with us, or fill in our online enquiry form to request a call back.