In a recent report published by the CQC, serious concerns have been raised about the progress being made in maternity services, highlighting that this has been “too slow” to ensure all women have access to safe and effective maternity care.
The report recognises that “the death or injury of a new baby or mother is devastating and something that everyone working in the health and care system has a responsibility to do all they can to prevent”, yet despite the greater focus on maternity services in recent times mothers and their babies continue to be at risk of serious injury and death.
With regards to learning from patient safety incidents, the report highlighted that in most services the staff were not always able to recognise what constituted as an incident or knew how to record such events appropriately. There were also issues in terms of capacity and pressures on staff in that the simply did not feel they had the time to report such incidents.
While acknowledging that it is vital that we have a system that is open, and that recognises, investigates, and learns when things go wrong, it is clear our maternity services still have some way to go in order to ensure that families get the truth, and safety continually improves.
Other themes identified to be hindering progression of maternity services included quality of staff training, poor working relationships between obstetric and midwifery teams, and hospital and community-based midwifery teams; a lack of robust assessment and a failure to fully engage with and listen to needs of local women.
Although rare, serious complications and maternity deaths have a long-term and enduring impact on families and their loved ones. The devastation caused in such situations should not be underestimated.
If you believe you have suffered because of negligence during maternity care and would like to discuss whether there are any grounds for a potential medical negligence claim with one of our medical negligence specialists, please contact us on 0151 645 0055.
To read the full report visit Safety, equity and engagement in maternity services | Care Quality Commission (cqc.org.uk)
The top cause of clinical negligence claims against the NHS is mistakes in the accident and emergency departments. In particular delays, misdiagnosis and poor treatment have become more common than in the past, overtaking orthopaedic claims. In 2017/2018 NHSR, the litigation claim handlers for the NHS, reported a 7% rise on the previous year. Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patient’s Association said ‘This reflects the crisis conditions that patients are now suffering in A&E all year round, not just in winter. These arise directly from the long-term under funding of the NHS and failures in workforce planning.’
Graystons Solicitors recognises this problem. Sadly the rise in negligence claims is very worrying as patients are suffering unnecessary harm which can have life changing consequences. Often the claims can relate to vulnerable patients as opportunities to treat the patients are missed. We welcome a review of the problem of A&E claims announced by the NHSR as we believe the safety of patients should be paramount.
Should I sue the NHS?
Understandably the public value the NHS and are very proud of it. At Graystons we share the affection for the NHS however recognise that sometimes mistakes do happen and things can go wrong. Compensation will only be awarded in clinical negligence cases if some damage has been caused by the medical error, however often our clients tell us that they really want to get to the bottom of what has happened as money cannot fully compensate them for their experience.
The NHS has a duty of candour which means that every healthcare professional must be open and honest with patients when something that goes wrong with their treatment and must apologise for the error and any consequence resulting from the error. Our clients often feel the opposite is the case and come to us for the answers and investigations they are seeking as the duty of candour has not been followed.
Graytons believes that by thoroughly investigating a client’s concerns by instructing independent medical experts to look at the issues in their case we can help them understand what has happened. The investigations should hopefully inform the NHS and serve as a red flag for the NHS to help prevent the same or similar errors for another patient. Patient safety is at the heart of what we do as clinical negligence solicitors and resonates with our clients who reiterate that they would not want someone else to have the same experience of medical negligence with lasting, devasting effects as a consequence.