NHS Maternity services in the spotlight

NHS Maternity services in the spotlight

The latest NHS story in the press today is all about the headline shocking statistic that nearly one–fifth of all maternity spending in England is spent on insurance for clinical negligence claims, equal to £700 per live birth.

However, this is just a small detail in a wider report from the National Audit Office which demonstrates how maternity services in the UK are now so over stretched that women are being turned away from maternity units. The report also describes a chronic shortage of midwives and births at their highest for 40 years all contributing to what the NAO describes as “significant and unexplained variations in performance around the country”

This is an emotive subject and many people will be shocked by the implication that clinical negligence claims are somehow taking money away from front-line services. However, this is too simplistic a conclusion to draw.

Clinical negligence claims arising from births and maternity care often result in catastrophic injuries, for example cerebral palsy. The children affected require life long and specialised care. If the services they require were readily available in the community, their families would not have to obtain compensation from the NHS. However, the background of swingeing cuts to the economy means that access to these services is more difficult or impossible. Clinical Negligence claimants and parents of injured babies and children generally think very carefully before deciding to take legal action. It isn’t fair to criticise them because they want to secure best care for their child.

If you and your family have been affected by a clinical negligence matter please contact us for free legal advice on our free phone number 0808 231 8234.