Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, will introduce plans to improve care in maternity wards as part of NHS improvements. It is hoped that the changes made will reduce the number of births resulting in stillbirth and brain injury by 50% by 2025.
This comes as an accelerated prediction compared with the original plan to have 50% less cases by 2030, which was proposed in response to the 2011 study from the Lancet medical journal. The study ranked the UK 33 out of 35 developed countries in the world for stillbirth rates.
The proposed improvements include looking to change the law to allow Coroners to investigate stillbirths. This is something many parents have been hoping for, since currently stillbirths cannot be investigated by Coroners and it means there isn’t always a conclusive reason as to why the death occurred. As a result clinical negligence claims arising from stillbirth often result in minimal damages with very little learnt to prevent future stillbirths taking place.
1000 in 700,000 births result in stillbirth, brain injury or serious harm. It is estimated that in 80% of cases where the baby appeared to be healthy before labour, but resulted in death, this could have been prevented had they received better care.
This is what couple Sarah and Jack Hawkins believed when they lost their daughter Harriet during birth. They were initially told that their daughter had died due to an infection, however they petitioned for an external review which revealed that Harriet’s death could likely have been prevented had the medical team worked faster, as soon as it was apparent that the situation had become critical.
Jeremy Hunt also hopes to address the issue of understaffed maternity wards. According to NHS England they are 3000 midwives short. This has a significant impact on ward capacity, some of which have had to turn families away when they have reached their limit.
The intended changes are hoped to reduce the number of birth injury clinical negligence claims that cost the NHS billions in damages a year. Almost half of the litigation cases brought against the NHS are linked to neonatal injuries. An estimated two claims are settled a week, many of which result in high compensation settlements equating to life-time care costs.
Rebecca Thomas, Director of Clinical Negligence at Duncan Lewis Solicitors comments as follows:
“Any steps to improve maternity care are to be welcomed. The UK ranked 33 out of 35 developed countries in the world for stillbirth rates which is clearly unacceptable. Standards and practices have to improve if we are to reduce the cost to the NHS for the lifelong care of babies who suffer brain damage at birth.”
Duncan Lewis Clinical Negligence Solicitors
Duncan Lewis’ Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury team have extensive expertise in brain injury claims, resulting from medical negligence, including birth injuries, misdiagnosis, prescribing errors and surgical errors.
As a Chambers & Partners 2017/18 recommended firm, Duncan Lewis Solicitors are adept in personal injury matters. We are the largest UK provider of Legal Aid and specialists in no win no fee claims, meaning our solicitors can advise on making a brain injury claim which protects your interests.
If you or someone you know requires expert advice on a brain injury claim, call Duncan Lewis on 0333 772 0409.