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clair hemming

Posted 16 August 2017
by Clair Hemming

Four babies a week are brain damaged by NHS blunders which begs the question is enough being done to address these issues?

I act for many children who have been injured at birth including circumstances where criticisms focus on the delay or failure of medical staff to deliver by caesarean section.  It must be remembered however that a C section is a major surgical procedure which carries risks to both mother and baby.  The decision to perform one should not be taken lightly and only when there is a sound medical reason for it and the risks and benefits and been fully explored with the patient. However in my experience, there are all too many instances where worrying signs have been missed, patients concerns have not been properly listened to, and the necessary doctor/patient discussion has not taken place. This has led to the wrong decision being taken, devastating injuries occurring and sadly even sometimes the death of babies.

The picture painted by my clients is one which does suggest there is a culture of “non-intervention”, where the medical staff whose advice is sought positively discourage operative deliveries, insisting that a natural birth is best.  In normal circumstances, I would agree that a natural vaginal birth is the safest option but where complications arise, it is not always so.

The Annual Report of NHS Resolution indicates that the number of birth related claims has increased from last year.  Unfortunately, in my view, too much time, effort and public money have been spent in reducing the ability of Claimants to seek compensation or in defending claims, rather than in addressing why they have happened in the first place and taking steps through training and staffing levels to avoid it happening in the first place.


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About the author

clair hemming

Clair Hemming

Partner and Solicitor

Partner and solicitor in the medical negligence department and a member of the Devon & Exeter Medico Legal Society and the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel