The NHS faced an unprecedented level of new clinical negligence claims last year with £1.2bn paid out in settlements for cases. Maternity claims formed the third highest number of all negligence claims reported, and the highest in value according to a report by the NHS LA.
A Treasury report states that the government provision for clinical negligence claims against the NHS has increased to £26.6 billion as a result of the number of medical negligence claims.
The value of birth injury claims tends to be high, as the amount paid contributes to lifelong care and specialist equipment required for children with severe disabilities and conditions including Cerebral and Erbs Palsy. Although the NHS LA puts the figure for Maternity claims at £6m or more, recent cases have seen much higher sums awarded due to the level care necessary.
In May this year record damages of over £13 million were paid to the family of an eight year old girl who suffered a devastating brain injury during delivery at the Royal Preston Hospital in 2006, after a streptococcal infection was not diagnosed or treated until it was too late. In the same month a youngster in Harrogate was awarded nearly £10 million after suffering brain damage at birth in 2008 resulting in dyskinetic cerebral palsy.
And in 2013, the family of a child left with severe disabilities due to medical mistakes made at birth at the Sunderland Royal Hospital won a £7.1 million payout. The child who was not delivered quickly enough developed dystonic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, and as a result requires 24-hour care and needs specially adapted equipment, housing and transport.
Neil Heavisides, Director within the firm, ran this case and has said of the case:
“This was a challenging case. We had to fight the case both to prove liability and then to secure the right level of compensation. A dozen experts were called in to help, adding to the complexity. Once the Hospital Trust admitted liability steps were taken to look for a suitable property for the child as the care and therapy needs were so considerable. A house was found and an application made to the Court forcing the Defendant to release sufficient money to buy it and secure enough additional funds to adapt it. It was wonderful to see the house completely remodelled, complete with an internal lift, specialist bathroom and therapy facilities as well as wide passageways and doorways. The family were able to move in long before the case was finally brought to an end with the approval of the High Court. This included a very substantial 6 figure payout every year for the rest of the child’s life to enable professional care to be provided.”
Healthcare professionals stress that having a baby under the NHS is extremely safe, however the NHS LA are making Maternity care a priority area due to the value and level of claims. Safety and Learning Advisory Groups have been introduced to look into the contributing factors and how to avoid repeating mistakes, in particular failing to respond to changes in the heart rate of unborn babies.
Call our experienced team of specialists on 0191 5666 500 if you believe you or your child has received negligent treatment before or after birth. You can also request a callback via our online enquiry form and we’ll get in touch at a time that’s convenient for you. Your initial advice session will be free and you will be under no obligation.