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The Implications of Birth Injury

I was interested to hear a debate on this morning’s BBC 5 Live covering the amount of compensation the NHS has spent on birth injury – a figure of £420m for the 2012/2013 period.

It stated during the debate on BBC 5 Live that birth injury is a high risk area and it was queried whether someone suffering an injury should really be able to claim compensation.

People should not feel guilty about making a claim of this nature.  You would only need to visit a child with cerebral palsy to  realise the burden borne by parents, and the difficulties faced by the child moving through to adulthood in terms of degree of care, loss of earnings, need for suitable accommodation, equipment and help with managing their financial affairs through the Court of Protection. These families need all the help they can get and have every right to have their cases investigated and compensation awarded if appropriate.

Birth injuries are generally caused in cases that lead to compensation by inadequate planning, failure to properly monitor babies who are in distress, failing to take the right action when a baby is in distress in time, and poor management technique particularly with ventouse and forceps in delivering the baby. This is often due to the lack of experience of junior doctors and the same mistakes are repeated over and over again.

The Government should have a target to reduce that bill by investing in more Consultants, midwives and more experienced doctors.  There should be proper and open investigation of a birth injury where staff can learn from mistakes and reduce repetition of errors. If 20 severely brain damaged babies a year could be reduced this would avoid 20 families' lives being turned upside down and potentially £120m in compensation costs.