The headlines surrounding the supposedly ever increasing cost of clinical negligence claims in maternity units gives the impression that there is a huge rise in the number of claims and the damages awarded but one needs to look beyond the headlines.
Negligence during birth can often have catastrophic and life-long consequences. This will always be associated with higher damages awards. The bulk of most awards of damages in this field will be for on-going care costs. These costs have almost always been covered by one of the public bodies. We suggest that careful scrutiny of the figures will only reveal that the costs have moved between government departments. Surely it is logical that the department that has been negligent should be picking up the tab for the on-going costs?
Careful examination of claims and assessment of future costs will normally result in periodic payment orders. A PPO places the decision making with regard to care firmly in the hands of those that are affected.
The answer to the problem of rising clinical negligence claims, clearly, lies with improving services, not limiting the scope for justice. The National Audit Report commenting on maternity services in England recognises that there continues to be higher risks of complications at weekends and that some hospitals are still failing to provide the minimum recommend midwifery and consultant cover.
A woman who has suffered at the hands of poor maternity treatment should not be made to feel guilty about press headlines suggesting these claims take funds from an overstretched NHS. These funds would otherwise need to come from the public purse in any event.
If you have suffered poor treatment and would like to discuss you options please contact our Clinical Negligence team on 020 8971 1020 or email [email protected]
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