The scandal of poor maternity care causing £ billions in claims against the NHS

Arti Shah of our London office – Eclipse Proclaim Personal Injury Awards ‘Young Achiever’ of 2011 – highlights a frank and worrying report from the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) revealing the financial and emotional costs of sub-standard maternity care in the NHS.

Last Friday the BBC quoted an NHSLA report which estimated that poor maternity care has led to claims amounting to more than £3 billion over a 10-year period.

Giving birth is meant to be one of the most joyous occasions of a woman’s life, yet this is so often not the case. I am routinely involved in dealing with obstetric cases where women, many of whom are first-time mothers, receive treatment that falls below a ‘reasonable standard of care’.

With targets to meet and quotas to fill, these women are often rushed in and out of hospital, and treated as though they are just another number instead of being given appropriate care. Poor hand-overs, inadequate note-taking and failing to listen to the mother’s concerns are just some of the complaints I come across on a regular basis.

At a time when they are feeling vulnerable, women rightly put their trust in the hands of the professionals. But when things go wrong, this can have devastating consequences – not least in cases where a child is left brain-damaged and requires lifelong care. In the 21st century, with major technological advances, maternity claims should not be the second highest-reported category of negligence claims.

Whilst the NHSLA is to be commended for providing such a frank report, this also serves as a wake-up call for the need for better standards of training, management and protocols to be put in place to improve safety for new mothers and their newborns.

Marcus Weatherby, Medical Negligence,
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