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Latest NHS Resolution report shows level of harm in NHS maternity care is still unacceptably high

View profile for Laura Sheehan
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Every year, NHS Resolution (NHSR) helps to resolve thousands of legal claims on behalf of the NHS in England. Last month, the organisation published its annual report, which outlines its dispute resolution strategy and summarises the volume of claims, both by type and value, across a 12-month period.

Here is a brief summary of the headline figures from its 2022/23 annual report:

Medical negligence, in any form, can have profound consequences on the lives and livelihoods of patients and their families. Whilst NHSR is increasingly settling claims before they reach court (accounting for 80% of all claims), or indeed, finding ways to settle claims without the need to pay any compensation, there remains some significant areas of concern.

One such area is in the provision of maternity care in England. What is clear in these latest figures from NHSR is that the level of harm caused by maternity services remains unacceptably high. Neonatal negligence, and the associated cost of compensating injured children and their families, has led to NHSR making maternity outcomes a key strategic focus.

In addition to working to reduce compensation for these incidents, NHSR are also supporting the government’s maternity safety ambition to halve the 2010 rates of stillbirths, neonatal deaths, maternal deaths and birth-related brain injuries by 2025.

Whilst some progress may be being made in that respect, there is still much work to do. Last year, the NHS faced record breaking maternity litigation costs and a series of high-profile stories concerning maternity care have been headline news in recent months. It is little wonder then that confidence in the NHS has recently reached record lows.

At Stephensons, our solicitors have extensive experience of handling birth injury compensation and negligence during pregnancy claims, with particular expertise in cerebral palsy claims. In some cases, our clients have very severe disabilities needing 24-hour care because of their birth injuries. Our solicitors have helped recover millions of pounds in compensation for our clients, which has been used to cover care, accommodation, aids and equipment as well as provide financial compensation for the actual injury.

If you have unfortunately experienced complications during pregnancy, it is important to seek out expert support. Birth injuries can be very complex, without specialist support from a medical negligence solicitor, parents can often take the NHS’ assessment at face value. They can also be unaware of their child’s long term future health requirements and the benefits bringing a claim has in helping meet what are often lifelong needs.

For NHSR to be dealing with claims without the claimant having a solicitor is a worry. There is supposed to be a duty of candour, but this can, on occasion, be lacking. We increasingly see clear cases of medical negligence initially defended by NHSR forcing claimants to go through the stress and costly exercise of issuing court proceedings in order to continue their claims. These claims are then quickly admitted and settled when they are transferred to external solicitors. 

Find further information about making a medical negligence claim here.