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Unsafe Maternity care has cost the NHS £8.2bn in 15 years

Posted on 22nd September 2021 in Medical Negligence

Posted by

Clair Hemming

Partner and Solicitor
Unsafe Maternity care has cost the NHS £8.2bn in 15 years

Having obtained figures from NHS Resolution the Independent reports on the cost of maternity negligence claims over the last 15 years.

They report that the cost of just one year’s maternity blunders could pay the starting salaries of more than 36,930 NHS nurses.  Also, that the number maternity claims has doubled in the last 10 years, with maternity claims representing almost 60% of the total payouts for claims against the NHS.

Clair Hemming, Partner and Clinical Negligence Solicitor commented:

These figures are staggering – and particularly so when put in the context of how many nursing salaries it would fund, and the initial reaction of most would be that this is not money being well spent.  We would all rather that these vast sums were used to pay for more medical staff, equipment and hospitals.  But the reality is that when a mother or child is injured, they must be compensated as a matter of principal, but also as a matter of need.  They have care needs, treatment needs, they have earnings that have been lost or never will be earned – there is a cost to the taxpayer in supporting them, putting to one side any moral obligations.

We need to look at why the number of maternity claims made have almost doubled in the past decade.  We need to stop focusing on the costs and instead focus on the cause, what is going wrong with our maternity services and why is that?   To coin a phrase “there is no claim without blame”. The question of whether our compensation legal system needs an overhaul because it is so costly obfuscates what the real issue is.

I support the recommendations of MP’s on the Health Committee for significant investment in maternity services.   We desperately need more midwives, but we also need more, better and continuous training.  We need to ensure that terrible scandals such as those at Shrewsbury & Telford, Nottingham and East Kent become a thing of the past. It is such an obvious point to make but investing to provide better care will reduce the cost to the NHS in damages and legal costs, but more importantly it will reduce the cost to human lives.

NHS Trusts also need to appreciate that closing ranks and covering up rather than being candid when mistakes are made, only serves to fuel the fire.   So many of my clients tell me that their decision to sue was ignited by the Trust’s attitude towards them, refusing to properly answer questions, adequately address their concerns and accept they did wrong.   This attitude also represents a missed opportunity to learn, if you do not accept you have made a mistake and examine why it happened, how do you prevent it happening again?    One of the prime motivations in bringing a claim for medical negligence for many victims is exactly this.


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