10 Aug NHS Resolution Report shows maternity negligence claims still costing more than any other discipline.
Schemes to improve learning from incidences, better peer support, and evidence-based practice welcomed by Baby Lifeline Training.
Whilst most births in the UK end with a healthy mother and baby; when something does go wrong it can be devastating for both families and healthcare professionals, as well as impacting on the economy of the NHS. NHS Resolution has focused on improvements to maternity care for some time now, as maternity claims have historically represented the highest cost to the NHS, in terms of the total value of claims. In addition, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care’s ambition to reduce the number of stillbirths, neonatal deaths, maternal deaths, and birth injuries by 50% by 2025 has only increased this focus on the need for improvements in the maternity sector.
The latest Annual Report & Accounts by NHS Resolution, published this month, shows that maternity claims are still costing 48% of the total value of claims across all NHS disciplines, despite only making up 10% of the total number of claims. This percentage is a 2% drop from last year’s record high of 50%; however, it still remains the largest contributor by far of the total £4,513.2 million. The second highest contributor after maternity being 17%, which belongs to aggregated specialities labelled as “other”.
Most of the cost of maternity claims come from cerebral palsy/brain damage claims. The number of maternity cerebral palsy/brain damage claims has gone down by almost 10% from the previous year, dropping by 20 claims to 211; however, this was after a big increase of 42 claims (over 20%) in 2016/17 from 2015/16. The mean average number of claims from the year 2004/2005 to 2017/18 has been almost 219, and so it’s encouraging to see that the last financial year has been below the average.
NHS Resolution has undertaken several strands of work to improve maternity care and reduce the number of untoward incidences, which we believe should make big differences in the way incidences are dealt with at an organisational and national level. A cultural and systemic shift that is overdue.
Most of these schemes involve a shift towards learning from incidences, better peer support, and evidence-based practice; for over 2 decades, Baby Lifeline Training has advocated these measures to improve care. We are pleased to see a national effort towards this from an organisation that holds such a wealth of data, and that this data is being analysed and shared with the aim of improving care.
The schemes include:
- Maternity Incentive Scheme
A set of 10 action points have been agreed by a Panel of experts and in line with the government’s maternity strategy and recommendations from the Five years of cerebral palsy claims report. Compliant trusts are expected to deliver safer maternity care with fewer cases of brain injury or other harm. Compliant trusts will receive financial incentives.
- Early Notification Scheme
Members are required to report all maternity incidents of potentially severe brain injuries within 30 days of the incident. This timely reporting allows the families of the affected to be supported and investigations to start early. As an organisation that believes that evidence-based learning from past incidents, as a team, is one of the most important components of reducing harm, we welcome this new scheme wholeheartedly.
In addition, the timely reporting allows affected families not only financial support at an earlier stage but less psychological trauma. As an organisation that supports NHS professionals in resilience training, we are pleased to see the addition of peer support for affected healthcare professionals; supporting the “second victim”.
- Getting It Right First Time
This national programme by NHS Improvement encourages clinicians to engage with their own data, and adopt evidence-based practice through peer discussion and review.
In addition, NHS Resolution’s last report, Five years of cerebral palsy claims: A thematic review of NHS Resolution data, addressed two key areas for improvement: training to prevent future incidents and the quality of serious incident reporting and investigations. This detailed analysis by former Darzi Fellow Dr Michael Magro, who now sits on Baby Lifeline’s Multi-Professional Advisory Panel, and advises on the development and content of our training, was an important step towards improved care in maternity.
We are pleased to have Dr Magro, amongst other expert speakers like James Badenoch QC – counsel for the case that changed the landscape of informed consent in the NHS, for our newest course Learning from Five Years of Cerebral Palsy Claims: Past, present, and future trends in litigation. NHS Resolution is in support of the course:
“We would like to thank Baby Lifeline for supporting the work of NHS Resolution with this event to drive forward the recommendations from our report ‘Five years of cerebral palsy: a thematic review of NHS Resolution data’. It will be an excellent opportunity to hear from the author, Dr Michael Magro, former Darzi Fellow at NHS Resolution. With a greater understanding of how these potentially life-changing events occur, we can strive to minimise the likelihood of avoidable cerebral palsy incidents from happening.”
Denise Chaffer, Director of Safety and Learning, NHS Resolution