Each Baby Counts is a national quality improvement programme led by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG). Its goal is to reduce the number of babies who die or are left severely disabled as a result of incidents occurring during term labour.
An enquiry led by the RCOG, looked at the results of local investigations into many of the 1,123 babies who were stillborn, or died during labour or within their first week of life, or suffered brain damage during 2016. Of those, 124 (11%) were stillborn, 145 newborns died and the other 854 were brain-damaged, often as a result of being deprived of oxygen.
The enquiry led to the second such report into these incidents and found that, 7 out of 10 stillbirths, neonatal deaths and babies brain damaged at birth could have been avoided if:
- the NHS had adequate staffing;
- the pressure on maternity units was reduced; and
- midwives and obstetricians were to follow guidelines
These are the three of the main reasons why more than 1,100 of the 700,000 babies born every year in the UK either die during or soon after birth or suffer serious injuries to their brain, the report found.
Commenting on the report, Endurance Arthur who specialises in birth injury claims said, “Earlier this year, I met with a group of midwives at an education day run annually by the Erb’s Palsy Group to improve the management of shoulder dystocia. Every midwife I spoke to afterwards impressed me with his/her dedication to their work. It was abundantly clear that most were working in extremely difficult conditions.
As someone who helps families to get compensation when these tragedies occur, the physical, psychological and financial cost of these injuries is all too familiar to me. A single avoidable cerebral palsy claim currently costs the NHS in the region £20 million in compensation. If 7 out of 10 of the 854 cases of brain damage during birth mentioned earlier were avoidable, that could mean that almost £12 billion in compensation could be paid out of the NHS budget because of injuries which need not have occurred. If that is not good enough reason for the government to address the staffing shortages and training needs within the NHS in this the NHS’s 70th year, then what is?”
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