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7 April 2021
More than 1,200 children left with brain damage after alleged failures
More than 1,200 children have been left with catastrophic brain damage due to alleged failures in maternity care in the last 10 years, new figures have revealed.
The data, obtained after an investigation by specialist birth and brain injury law firm JMW, confirms that 1,226 cerebral palsy negligence cases were begun against the NHS between April 2009 and March 2020.
Cerebral palsy causes a range of lifelong physical and cognitive disabilities and is due to brain damage that happens during pregnancy, birth or the newborn period.
Many of the children at the centre of these cases will be awarded significant compensation settlements to cover the cost of the lifelong specialist care and housing their profound disabilities require. Financial support is also required to provide security given most will never be able to work for a living or live independently and to compensate for the fact they will never be able to have their own families.
The data obtained from NHS Resolution, the body that deals with negligence claims against the NHS, under the Freedom of Information Act shows total compensation awarded on the 6,914 successful cases related to poor maternity care was more than £4 billion. As well as cerebral palsy cases this also included cases involving babies who were stillborn (1.070) and physical and psychological injuries to the mother (875).
Eddie Jones, head of medical negligence at JMW and specialist brain injury solicitor, said the figure lay bare the appalling human and financial cost of maternity failures.
Eddie commented: “The devastation maternity failures cause is immeasurable. The majority of families will never have to face this situation but the sad fact is that thousands will and their lives will be changed for ever in an instant.
“In the cases we deal with simple steps would have prevented the most tragic of consequences. Monitoring of women and babies, ensuring guidelines are consistently followed and training and communication are areas where the system regularly falls down. This is not good enough and it is wrong that the standard of care provided in maternity hospitals can fluctuate so greatly and the experiences of families vary from joyous to absolutely tragic.”
In total 12,156 cases were brought in the 10 year period, with 3,889 being dropped and the rest still ongoing.
Causes stated for claims include maternity staff failing to act on an abnormal fetal heart rate, which amounted to 691, a failure to monitor 1st or 2nd stage labour, which was cited in 1,295 claims, and cases related to issues with forceps or ventouse deliveries which totalled 280.
Meanwhile a failure to monitor the dose / rate of Syntocinon, a drug used to speed up labour, was the cause mentioned in 53 claims and the failure to diagnose dangerous pregnancy condition pre-eclampsia was the cause alleged in 87 cases.
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JMW Solicitors LLP is a leading Manchester law firm and offers a broad range of legal services to both commercial and private clients. JMW's clinical negligence team is headed by lawyer Eddie Jones. For further information, please visit www.jmw.co.uk.