This site is intended for healthcare professionals only

Maternity negligence cases make up half of NHS legal costs

Written by: | Published:

10,686 claims were made against the NHS last year 10,686 claims were made against the NHS last year

Negligence in maternity care is costing the NHS more than any other area in legal costs, according to NHS Resolution’s annual report.

Despite only making up 10% of the 10,686 claims the NHS received from patients in 2016-17, maternity action represented 50% of the £4,370 million taken from the service following action.

READ MORE: UK stillbirth rate falls, but 'still much more to do'

Among the most expensive maternity claims made were those around cases where babies suffered brain damage during birth. The money retrieved was usually needed to pay for care for the baby for the rest of their life.

NHS Resolution chief executive Helen Vernon said: ‘Incidents arising in maternity continue to dominate our expenditure due to the very high value of claims arising from brain injuries at birth. These incidents can have a devastating impact on those involved and we must do everything we can to learn from what happened.

‘The value of these cases reflects the complex nature of the injuries and the subsequent care required and under today’s legal framework could exceed £20 million for one child.’

READ MORE: 'Lifeline' drug for babies with rare developmental condition

While much focus has been put on labour events leading to brain damage, the NHS in England launching initiatives to reduce perinatal and maternal deaths. The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has pledged its support to projects seeking to avoid maternity outcomes which can lead to claims being filed, with many signs appearing in the antenatal period.

The RCM called for focus on evidence based initiatives to detect those pregnancies where the foetus is failing to grow as expected, to identify those women with psycho-social or medical risk factors and ensure that they receive appropriate care.

RCM director for midwifery Louise Silverton said: ‘As in previous years, this report shows the level of payments relating to negligence around care before, during and after birth continues to be very high.

READ MORE: Mothers stop breastfeeding early due to lack of support

‘One cannot separate out the contribution to quality care from individual midwives from the system in which they work.

'The ongoing shortage of midwives employed in our maternity services, and the numbers of midwives who tell us they plan to leave the profession, are inhibiting efforts to improve care through making time for training and learning, introducing continuity of carer and other initiatives.

‘The RCM believes that further investment in maternity services, addressing the midwife shortage and enabling implementation of NICE guidance around reducing still birth, could free up funds from the considerable costs of litigation.’

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

This material is protected by MA Healthcare Ltd copyright.
See Terms and Conditions.



Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code

Most read articles from Practice Nursing Journal

Practice Nursing Journal latest issue and most read articles.

Click here to read a selection of free to access articles from Practice Nursing Journal


Sign up to the newsletter


Independent Nurse is the professional resource for primary care and community nurses, providing clinical articles for practice nurses and prescribers.


Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date with the latest nursing news.

Stay Connected

Stay social with Independent Nurse by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or connecting on LinkedIn.


Need access to some of our older articles? You can view our archive, or alternatively contact us.

Contact Us

MA Healthcare Ltd.
St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road
London, SE24 0PB

Tel: +44 (0)20 7738 5454
Registered in England and Wales No. 01878373

Meet the team


Find out how to contribute to Independent Nurse here.