Birth injury claims remain high

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The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has said that the number of compensation claims for cerebral palsy and brain damage sustained at birth has barely changed since 2006/07. Obstetrics claims account for 41% of the value of compensation claims for medical negligence against the NHS.

Their spokesman said: “This is a prime example of how the cash-strapped NHS can reduce not only an immeasurable amount of pain and suffering but also its own considerable costs by learning from its failures. The NHS figures are clear and a change of culture is needed as a matter of urgency. Whatever action is being taken currently to improve safety for expectant mothers and their children isn’t working well enough. It is not acceptable that the NHS still harms around 200 new mothers and babies each year, particularly when it is down to errors which should not happen, but which continue to happen time after time”.

Case reports reveal consistent failures in monitoring heartbeats during labour, missed warning signs, delays in delivery despite the warning signs, and unreasonable use of forceps.

Sandra Patton, who heads the medical injury team at Ashtons Legal, says: “Time and again in our legal work we see the same errors leading to devastation and loss for families at what should be the happiest of events. It is difficult to accept that, despite the increased use of safety guidelines, despite the in-depth investigations that take place after something goes wrong which should then lead to new practices, the same basic errors are still being made. Cutting costs is not the answer to any problem in the NHS and we are heading for yet further problems with the savage attack on NHS funding. There needs to be an open, safety first, learning culture and we are clearly a long way from that”.


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