Birth Injury Early Notification scheme

3 October 2019

This month sees the NHS resolution publishing “The Early Notification scheme progress report” for year one of the scheme (2017 to 2018). 
 

The aim of the scheme is to:

support the stated government priorities to halve the rate of stillbirth, neonatal death and brain injury and improve the safety of maternity care while also responding to the needs of families where clinical negligence is identified including through early admissions of liability where appropriate.”

There is a lot that is positive in the report but page 31 reveals the reporting relating to family involvement and candour is disappointing with only 77% of families being notified by the trust that incident had occurred and only 35% were recorded as having been offered an apology. 

The report also picked up wide national variance as to whether a baby requiring therapeutic cooling is considered an adequate trigger to meet the need for statutory duty of candour. This highlights the complexities of the issues and problems that are thrown up and therefore the nuanced and sensitive approach that needs to be adopted in relation to every baby’s care.

The journey for every family discovering that their child has, or may have, suffered injury during birth will be difficult.  A different approach is long overdue and this good work must continue even if it is hard to get right.

As lawyers who specialise in Cerebral Palsy and birth injury claims, we are pleased when we see any changes that herald the potential to learn from mistakes (and certainly that is the aspiration of the scheme). However we also recognise that parents with children with cerebral palsy need to be involved and told the truth no matter whether they are involved in this scheme or are going down the conventional litigation route.

Further information

If you have been affected by the issues discussed, please contact a member of our Medical Negligence team.

About the author

Kate Rohde is a Partner in the Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury department and an experienced specialist in clinical negligence claims of all types, often acting for bereaved families or on behalf of children and adults who have suffered permanent and profound injuries.

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