Tag Archives: birth

New Scheme Aims to Make Birth Negligence Claims Easier & Faster

After more than a billion pounds in birth negligence claims was paid out by the NHS over the past year, the government is finally taking action to safeguard families and the health service.

The UK government has launched a new scheme to support families around the UK that make birth negligence claims. It aims to drastically slash the average time it takes for a case to be resolved and improve maternity services.

The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, says waiting over a decade from the time of a birth injury to receiving compensation is unacceptable and places additional burdens and hardships on families struggling to cope after such a devastating tragedy. Although his aims are welcome, his comments are puzzling. Where cases are not defended, it has long been the case that families do not have to wait that long and can obtain early part-payments of damages.

The new Rapid Resolution and Redress programme has been drawn up at a time when over 500 incidents relating to birth negligence claims occur at NHS hospitals every year, sometimes tragically resulting in severe injuries to a newborn and even fatalities.

Speedier Birth Negligence Claims

The new birth injury claims scheme is currently in a consultation phase and is based on a similar one in operation in Sweden, where the number of birth injuries has plummeted to around half of what it was since the plan was brought in seven years ago.

“By learning from proven methods in countries like Sweden, we hope to achieve a dramatic reduction in the number of tragedies where babies are lost or injured for life,” said Hunt. He says that even though maternity staff at the NHS do a “fantastic job under huge pressure”, problems with deliveries, including stillbirths, are among the highest in Europe. That, he says, has to change — as does what he points to a “culture of blame” when things go wrong.

Again, his comments, whilst welcome, are strange. The NHS Litigation Authority, which is involved in all existing claims against hospitals, should have all the information needed to learn from past mistakes. It is unclear why a new scheme is needed for lessons to be learned from past mistakes, but anything that helps to reduce injuries is, however, welcome.

So how will the new British scheme work once it is introduced? We do not yet know, but the health minister is hoping it will act as a kind of fast-track compensation payout system in dealing with birth injury claims.

Brain damage is unfortunately one of the most common forms of birth negligence at the NHS, as well as cerebral palsy. Others can include missed tears and maternal deaths, which, although rare, are often avoidable.

Such is the scale of the problem that from 2015 to 2016, the health service has paid out £1.2 billion to settle cases, according to official figures.

A Better Chance for Everyone

Among the main features of the new plan is a system whereby families could opt for what the government calls an “alternative system of compensation”. This would involve families receiving financial compensation over a period of time, as well as support that would include counselling. It offers families a way of getting redress for what has happened.

All this is not to say that the government wants to stop people from taking birth injury claims to court. Indeed, in situations where a medical procedure or care has not been up to standard and has caused injury or worse, families are still perfectly entitled to bring claims, particularly where doing so will produce a better outcome.

The government has also launched a new public health campaign to draw attention to childbirth issues and what women can do to make sure themselves and their babies are as healthy as possible. Called Our Chance for a Safer Pregnancy, it aims to help lower mortality rates and ensure more births than ever are safe and trouble-free. It will hopefully result in a lowering of birth injury rates, while giving quick compensation access to those who are sadly affected.

= This is a guest post =

Did my husband lose respect for me after I gave birth?

I’ve always been the strong one, the one with the good career, fairly good salary and in many respects the wearer of the trousers. It was a role which suited me just fine, every ship needs a Captain and I wore the Captain’s hat with style and aplomb. That was until I swapped it for my Mummy hat and my husband had to help steer the ship himself.

I recently read an interesting article where a man talked about how his wife’s caesarean made her a total badass. I shared it with him and we talked a little about the traumatic birth of our son and his swift arrival via an emergency caesarean. It occurred to me that seeing me at my most vulnerable; naked and frightened, screaming for help, being cut open to have our child wrenched from my body made him see me in a different light. Did my husband lose respect for me after I gave birth?

I think before I became a Mum he saw me as strong, and I had been strong for us both, but now I had to be strong for our son first and us as a couple second. I was hormonal and weepy and I’d never been a Mum before, so everything was new and I was totally winging it, we were winging it together. I was also wrestling with undiagnosed PTSD which made me anxious, vulnerable and hyper vigilant. A storm was brewing inside me and I could no longer steer our ship effectively.

I wasn’t the high functioning girl in love with her career anymore. I was an exhausted first time mum, struggling physically and mentally. I’d made and nurtured our tiny perfect son but in the process I’d changed and I’d probably lost his respect.

He denies losing respect for me following the birth of our child, but what’s clear is that something has changed, there’s been a significant shift in our dynamic. I’m no longer able to play the role of leader and breadwinner, but instead fulfil the role of Mother and carer. To me they are equally important roles, but to others they are somehow lesser and not as deserving of respect and status.

I’d always thought that giving birth would give me a badge of honour worthy of respect. It’s a rite of passage which can be natural and beautiful, but equally it can be traumatic and bloody. Experiencing that and seeing me go through the birthing process should be worthy of respect, but it showed me up to be the vulnerable human that I am, and that changed things.