Over the last few years the number of claims made against the NHS for clinical negligence has risen dramatically. Unfortunately, maternity care is one of the areas that has caused a large proportion of these claims.
In just one year, the amount of compensation paid to those making claims against the NHS for maternity injuries has doubled. According to the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) the amount of medical negligence compensation paid to victims of medical negligence in 2012 amounts to over £420 million. When compared to last year’s figure of £235 million, it’s clear that something is going quite wrong.
Lack of midwives leads to injury and claims
The vast majority of medical professionals who’ve been questioned following the announcement of these figures have identified the lack of midwives as the main reason for this dramatic increase in medical negligence compensation claims. While the number of births that the NHS is dealing with is increasing dramatically, the number of midwives available to deal with them has remained the same. Inevitably, in this situation, mistakes will always happen.
Another likely reason for this increase in claims is the information that new mothers now have access to. As with all personal injury cases, more people are claiming because they understand more about the system. Due to the increased media coverage and the ongoing debate about the ‘compensation culture’ in the UK, people are more aware of their legal rights. Inevitably, this is going to lead to more claims being made which will lead to more compensation payouts.
One thing is certain; increases like this aren’t sustainable. Something needs to be done to make sure that the compensation figures don’t double again next year. Though increasing the staffing levels in hospitals across the UK might cost money in the short term, the long term savings could be huge.