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27 October 2015

Home births 'better for mothers' after birth injury claims costs NHS millions

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have suggested that home births are often better for mothers and are just as safe for their babies.

Each year in England and Wales, around 700,000 babies are born, with 90% of those births carried out in doctor-led obstetric units in NHS hospitals. The Royal College of Midwives said that almost half of women are at extremely low risk of complications during the birth process and “might as well be better off giving birth elsewhere”.

In 2014 the NHS paid £1 billion in compensation to families of babies who had either died or had been left with serious brain injuries by staff errors during childbirth. The health service was found to be at fault for the deaths or maiming of 1,316 newborns last year, of those, the largest claims were for children who were left brain-damaged.

NICE have recommended that women should be offered the choice of between a home birth, an obstetric unit in hospital, a midwifery unit next to a hospital or a midwifery unit in the community. Certain guidelines only apply to women at low risk of complications and factors that raise the risk include, being over 35, obesity, heart disease, anaemia or foetal abnormalities.

A recent multi-million pound clinical negligence case saw an autistic teenager awarded millions of pounds in damages after complications at birth. The hospital in question failed to diagnose extremely low blood sugar levels shortly after he was born in 2002. He was eventually given dextrose, but it did not save him from the brain damage and autism he suffers from today. The boy’s mother sued the East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in July 2013 and following that, the trust agreed to pay his fees at a specialist boarding school until he is 25. The amount of compensation is still to be finalised but it is certain to be multi-million pounds that is needed for his future care.

In the North East, a seven year old girl is also to receive damages after a blood sample taken shortly after birth caused a severe brain injury. It left her with serious injuries including being unable to speak, walk and have difficulty breathing. Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust said her care “was not what it should have been”. The girl's father said the family had waited seven years for the hospital to admit the mistake they had made and it is expected to take about a year for any financial settlements to be agreed.

Longden, Walker & Renney have experience dealing with similar medical negligence claims. We helped a client obtain £11,500 in damages after suffering as a result of failure to identify that she had not completely delivered her placenta.

Our dedicated team of experts work to achieve compensation to cover corrective treatment is required, in addition to any financial loss that you may have suffered. Contact us via telephone on 0191 5666 500 or complete our online enquiry form. Your first advice session will be free and you will be under no obligation.