The cost to the NHS of medical negligence in the delivery room

The latest report by the National Audit Office has pointed to the significant shortage of midwives and doctors on labour wards and has suggested that an additional 2,300 midwives are needed in order to improve safety for mothers and their babies; echoing the concerns made by the Royal College of Midwives.


NHS Maternity Services Under Increasing Pressure

In England, having a baby is the most common reason for being admitted to hospital. The birth rate is now at a 40 year high, with nearly 700,000 live births a year – an increase of almost 25% in the last decade. Deliveries themselves are becoming more complex and, it has been reported, that a quarter of all maternity units were closed to admissions for at least half a day between April and September last year because of capacity problems. With medical negligence claims arising from maternity services increasing by 80% in the last five years, it is clear that maternity services are under severe pressure.


For the majority of mothers and babies, thankfully, their birth experience is positive. Indeed, the UK is still considered to be one of the safest places to give birth. However, over half of maternity units still do not meet the standards recommended by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists regarding the presence of consultants.


Fifth of Maternity Budget Spent on Insurance

The NHS is now counting the costs of something going wrong in the delivery room, with the revelation that it spends nearly a fifth of its maternity budget on insuring against medical negligence claims. But the real costs are those that are felt by the people who have to deal with the consequences – the parents and babies. Aside from the, often devastating, emotional costs, the financial cost of providing ongoing care and special equipment for a baby who is injured because of a medical error can place enormous pressure on a family. If your baby has cerebral palsy from a lack of oxygen or, as a mother, you have a uterine rupture because a harassed midwife makes a mistake during the delivery, wouldn’t you want someone to take responsibility?


Will Financial Pressure Highlight the Importance of Required Improvements?

The NHS has a long list of pressing concerns. Now that the financial costs of medical negligence are making their presence known in the NHS purse, maybe this will help turn the attention of policy-makers and managers towards investing in the desperately needed improvements to maternity services to ensure a safe delivery for mother and child.


At Gadsby Wicks, we handle a range of medical negligence claims including birth injury and gynaecological injury. If you or a loved one have suffered as a result of problems in your maternity care, call us on freephone 0808 115 6189 to discuss whether you may have a claim. See here for a selection of case studies.



Posted 8th November 2013 | Posted in News,Uncategorised