Poor quality reporting has hampered efforts to reduce medical negligence leading to cerebral palsy or brain injuries, a report has concluded.
Analysis of 50 claims occurring between 2012 and 2016 by NHS Resolution found the numbers of patients born with these conditions has remained static partly because lessons have not been learned.
The claims have a potential liability of more than £390m, not including the defence costs and wider healthcare costs.
The review by NHS Resolution, which has succeeded NHS Litigation Authority as the body responsible for handling claims, found evidence that poor quality serious incident investigations at a local level after negligence in maternity care.
The patient and family were involved in only 40% of investigations, and an external reviewer was brought in to analyse mistakes in just 4% of cases.
‘The quality of SI investigations has repeatedly been found to be poor with very little or no training for investigators across the NHS,’ said the report, published today. It recommends that a working party should discuss creating a national standardised and accredited training programme for all staff conducting serious incident investigations.
Obstetric claims accounted for 10% of the 10,686 claims received under NHS Resolution’s indemnity schemes in 2016/17 but accounted for 50% of the value due to the devastating nature of some injuries and often life-long care needs.
NHS Resolution says it has already sought to change the culture of how claims are defended. NHS trusts are required to notify the organisation of all cases of possible severe brain injury within 30 days (previously this was required only if an investigation had already found failings in care and the claim was likely to be worth at least £500,000).
Helen Vernon, chief executive of NHS Resolution, added: ‘Negligent care resulting in cerebral palsy has a devastating and lifelong effect on the child, their family and carers. Whilst thankfully, these cases are very rare, they can be prevented. What we have learned from these events and the steps that we and our partners have committed to as a result, represents a vital step towards preventing future harm.’