The imminent arrival of a new born baby is an exciting and joyful time for most families. However, the overwhelming exhilaration of a new addition to the family can for some become overshadowed when the carefully thought out birthing plan has to quickly go out of the window in an emergency, followed by the traumatic news of a birth injury.
It is widely acknowledged that medical staff do an amazing job in these situations, but there are occasions when things go wrong that could have been avoided if greater care had been taken. The ensuing battle by parents for answers (and in many cases much needed compensation to fund the additional needs of a child who has suffered a birth injury) can be a long, drawn out and daunting process.
Families of children injured at birth do not necessarily seek to ‘blame’ those who they believe were at fault during the birthing process, but are simply looking to establish what went wrong, why it went wrong and what the future holds for their child and the family as a whole. Understandably they often feel doubly let down by the system; first in relation to the quality of the medical treatment itself and subsequently in relation to the process of investigating what occured. This has led to mounting criticism and calls for a faster, more streamlined process for dealing with childbirth injury cases.
A new Rapid Resolution and Redress Scheme is therefore now being considered by the government to investigate cases where there has been avoidable harm to babies during birth. The scheme is aimed at offering a speedier resolution of disputes which avoids the need for protracted and expensive litigation. They do however insist that the scheme will not take away the parents’ ultimate right to pursue a legal action through the courts for redress in cases where medical errors have caused birth injuries.
In addition to the new Rapid Resolution and Redress scheme the government has announced a number of additional measures with a view to improving the nation’s maternity care. This includes steps to improve training, a system of maternity ratings and a national quality improvement programme. One of the aims is to halve stillbirths and neonatal deaths by 2030.
It is often said that Lawyers who deal with medical negligence compensation are all too quick to take matters down the legal route when birth injuries occur, costing the NHS millions of pounds each year in defending each and every case brought against them. The truth is somewhat different. Lawyers do not take a case on ‘just because they can’, they take cases on to ensure the right questions are asked on behalf of their clients and that adequate compensation packages are awarded to help families move forward without the worry of financial hardship while bringing up a child with additional needs. Lawyers therefore perform a vital role, not only is giving victims access to justice but also by focussing the spotlight on areas of the health service that require impprovement. Valuable lessons can be learned along the way, resulting in improvements to services that prevent more innocent people sufering.
The conduct of the health providers themselves also needs to be considered. They often cause unecessary distress to patients by defending cases instead of acknowledging errors at an early stage. This causes legal costs to needlessly rise and encorages some people to pursue claims where an early apology may have been sufficent recompense.
We therefore wholeheartedly welcome any improvement to the sytem that allows disputes to be resolved more quickly to the overall benefit of the victim.
If you or someone close to you have suffered a traumatic birth resulting in a still birth, neonatal death or birth injury and you’d like to know where you stand legally then contact specialist medical negligence lawyer Oliver Thorne now for a free assessment of your case. Call 0800 037 8020 or email details of the case to us for an immediate response.