The NHS needs to improve on learning from its mistakes through an honest and open appraisal, if it is to stem claims against it for childbirth injuries.
The message has come from Richard Lodge, a medical negligence partner at Kingsley Napley, following news from NHS Resolution that childbirth now represents 50% of the total value of clinical negligence claims – up from 43% the previous year.
“People do not want to have to sue the NHS but if they or members of their family suffer life-changing injuries due to negligence, it is understandable they need recompense. It is sadly my experience that often problems during childbirth could have been avoided,” said Napley.
He said that although maternity services within the NHS are mostly safe, the desire for natural births without medical intervention, staff shortages and the pressure placed on midwifery staff, were all reasons why there had been a multi-fold increase in the number of childbirth injury claims.
“In my experience as a claimant lawyer, to stem such claims most importantly the NHS needs to improve on learning from its mistakes through an honest and open appraisal of what went wrong,” he said.
“This is in the interests of patients, and the NHS as a whole. Only by addressing this issue will the number of claims be reduced and the bill for negligence claims impacted dramatically.”
The Daily Telegraph has reported that a cult-like fixation on normal births, has lead to doctors being kept out of the delivery room even when needed, leading to catastrophic errors and record negligence claims.
Parents made 232 claims against the NHS in 2016-17 for childbirth injuries, a 23% rise from 188 cases the year before. Their total value sat at almost £2 billion.