The UK Government has recently published details of new measures to improve the safety of maternity care in the NHS in England, which include maternity safety funding and publishing maternity ratings.
NHS trusts will be given resources to improve their approach to maternity safety, including an £8 million fund for maternity safety training, with at least £40,000 available to each NHS trust in England. In addition, the new measures will make sure lessons are learned from mistakes and shared openly and transparently across the NHS.
The Government has also announced its intention to consult on a new rapid resolution and redress (RRR) scheme, which it says could investigate and learn lessons from more than 500 incidents a year. In cases where harm was avoidable, families would be offered access to financial support without having to go through a formal legal process.
According to the Government, a similar scheme operating in Sweden has reduced serious avoidable birth injuries by around 50% in the last six to seven years.
Other measures in the Government’s safer maternity care action plan include:
“These comprehensive measures will give practical support to help trusts improve their approach to safety – and help to foster an open and transparent culture so that the courts become a last resort not an automatic first step,” explained Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. “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.”
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has commented on the Government’s announcement, and in particular on the proposed RRR Scheme, warning that any fast-track compensation for babies injured by the NHS at birth must be at the right level.
“Compensation for these catastrophic injuries has a very clear purpose and, in these cases in particular, it is critical that the right amount of compensation is made available to injured children to ensure they receive the care they desperately need,” said Neil Sugarman, president of APIL.
“We have yet to see the details of the consultation, but we will be reminding the Department of Health that children suffering cerebral palsy and brain damage at birth need round-the-clock medical care, specialist equipment and support for the rest of their lives,” he added.
Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.
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