Health secretary Jeremy Hunt revealed at a recent medical conference that the NHS spends around £1,000 in insurance for every baby it delivers.
Hunt admitted that at least half of the NHS pot of £65 billion set aside for compensation claims was being spent on maternity cases with 25 babies suffering a birth injury every week and four or five of these having lifelong brain damage as a result.
Labour’s health spokesman Jonathan Ashworth admitted that mistakes are likely to continue happening within our hospitals as NHS staff continue to be overstretched and overworked while the 70-year-old NHS suffers underfunding.
The figures are shocking and highlight that maternity services need a greater focus to reduce birth injury incidents. The Government announced a commitment to increasing the number of midwives earlier this year but more needs to be done to provide safe maternity services for every mother and baby.
Childbirth is a critical time. While giving birth is the most natural thing in the world, medical errors such as delayed action or not carefully monitoring the baby can lead to lifetime care needs and changed lives for whole families.
Recent reports have stated that the NHS medical negligence bill has increased by 150% compared to 2014 figures. This is a staggering figure and reveals how many families are suffering following avoidable medical errors.
Birth injury cases take the lion’s share of NHS payouts because for those who have suffered the most serious birth injuries including birth asphyxia, birth trauma, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and meningitis, the effects will last a lifetime.
These children, and their families, must learn to live with significant disabilities. For some, simple day-to-day living becomes a challenge. The compensation sought for avoidable birth injuries considers lifetime needs and loss of future earnings for those who are unlikely to be able to ever work due to the injuries suffered.
Essential equipment, therapies and care costs to last a lifetime, cannot be afforded without compensation. The NHS continues to be stretched and until this is rectified with adequate funding, training and appropriate levels and quality of staff, birth injury incidents will sadly continue.