Spiralling cost of medical negligence in NHS maternity units

Medical negligence solicitor, Sam Robson assesses the latest figures.

A recent study has highlighted the increasing cost of medical negligence in NHS maternity units across the country.  In 2006 the NHS paid out £11.8 million in compensation for medical negligence claims relating to neo natal death, brain damage or disability.  That figure has now risen to £85.8 million in 2010, a seven fold increase.

A common theme in these negligence claims is the misinterpretation of a cardiotocogram (CTG) during labour.  Traditionally midwives monitor the baby’s progress during labour by applying a belt to the mother’s stomach.  The monitor produces a trace which records the baby’s heart rate and uterine contractions.  This indicates the baby’s stress levels during labour and provides critical information to the medical professionals warning them when the baby is in trouble.  The CTG traces are however notoriously difficult to interpret.

The study shows that 25% of stillbirths were caused by a CTG error by midwives, whereas almost one in ten were misdiagnosed by registrars. 4% of CTG misdiagnosis cases were attributed to consultant obstetricians.  A lack of training and substandard maternity care is being blamed for these preventable deaths.

What should have been the celebration of a healthy baby too often becomes the tragedy of a brain damaged child.  The costs to a family of caring for a child with cerebral palsy are astronomical.  Some state benefits are available but compensation for the additional costs can only be obtained by bringing a medical negligence claim against the hospital.  Clinical negligence claims of this nature are complex, involving specialist medical experts and an in-depth knowledge of the medical issues on the part of the solicitors dealing with the case. 

Slee Blackwell Solicitors are one of the biggest legal practices in Devon and have a dedicated and experienced team of medical negligence lawyers who will be able to advise you in this sensitive area of litigation and ensure that you are awarded the appropriate levels of damages to cover all your future care needs in this specialist area.

For further information please contact any one of our network of offices in Barnstaple, Exeter, Bideford, South Molton and Braunton. Medical negligence solicitor Sam Robson is based at our Exeter office and can be contacted on 01392 423000 or by email at sam.robson@sleeblackwell.co.uk

We cover the entire Devon region and deal with medical negligence claims in North Devon, Exeter, Torbay, Plymouth and beyond. This includes clinical negligence claims against South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust.

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