The NHS’s Early Notification Scheme (ENS) was set up in April 2017 to reduce the time between identifying maternity incidents of potentially severe brain injury and resolution of potential claims.
The scheme required NHS Hospitals to report to the ENS legal team (which is part of NHS Resolution) within 30 days, all incidents where babies (who were born at term and following a labour) had a potential severe brain injury diagnosed within the first week of life.
The incidents to be reported are where a:
- baby has a diagnosis of hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (Grade III;) or
- baby has been therapeutically cooled; or
- baby has decreased central tone, was comatose and experienced seizures.
Solicitors on the panel of NHS Resolution then investigate the case and if they believe it is appropriate, offer compensation. The Scheme aims to circumvent the established, tried and tested system in place for resolving child brain injury claims effectively through the civil courts but we know that there are several problems with this.
Firstly, we know that the scheme is reaching only a small number of affected families. This is clear from the NHS Resolution’s own report into the first year of the scheme, published in September 2019 that between April 2017 and March 2018 – 746 qualifying cases were reported to the Early Notification scheme. At the time of the report, 24 families had “received an admission of liability, formal apology and in some cases, financial assistance with their care and other needs within 18 months of the incident”. We believe that many families are not even aware that their case has been referred to the Early Notification scheme.
Secondly, there is also the possibility that some families are entitled to answers but do not meet the scheme’s strict criteria.
Also, we believe that the scheme risks undercompensating some children as set out here.
If you or your child has been injured following the birth of a baby and you are concerned about the care you received, we recommend that you seek specialist advice from us.
We manage families, who seek our help, with compassion, sensitivity and empathy and we signpost them to resources which may help them. Where possible, we seek to get an early admission of liability if indeed their child’s injuries were avoidable. If an early admission is possible, we set up case management and therapy support for the child whilst the investigation into what compensation the child should receive is ongoing.
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