The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has today published it’s preliminary report into the quality of investigation carried out when there has been a poor outcome for mothers and babies in the course of labour.
Childbirth is supposed to be an exciting and joyous event but it can be a time of distress and sorrow for some deeply unfortunate parents. That may not always be the fault of the obstetricians or midwives caring for mother and baby but whatever the cause, it is essential that the parents receive compassionate treatment at the time and after the event and that proper investigations establish whether things could be done better next time.
According to RCOG there are too many inadequate investigations when babies die or are severely brain damaged during labour. Each Baby Counts is intended to ensure that lessons are learned when things go wrong
Of the 902 cases referred to the enquiry, investigations have been completed by the NHS Trust or body responsible for the care in 610 cases and RCOG have so far reviewed 204 of those investigations. Of those reviewed to date a worrying 27% were found to be of poor quality.
Of even greater concern is that parents were invited to participate in the investigation in only 28% of cases. In 47% the parents were told that there was an investigation but were not involved and in a staggering 25% the parents were not even informed that an investigation was being undertaken. This highlights a worrying disregard for the people most affected by poor treatment.
In only 7% of investigations was there any element of independent review or input into the process.
Prof Alan Cameron, vice-president of the RCOG said: “When the outcome for parents is the devastating loss of a baby or a baby born with a severe brain injury, there can be little justification for the poor quality of reviews found. The emotional cost of these events is immeasurable, and each case of disability costs the NHS around £7m in compensation to pay for the complex, lifelong support these children need.”
Health Minister Ben Gummer said “We expect the NHS to review and learn from every tragic case, which is why we are investing in a new system to support staff to do this and help ensure far fewer families have to go through this heartache,” he said.
Out of 800,000 births after at least 37 weeks of pregnancy, in the UK in 2015, there were:
- 655 babies classified as having severe brain injuries
- 147 neonatal deaths (within seven days of birth)
- 119 stillbirths
The final report is due in 2017 and the aim is by 2020 to reduce by 50% the number of babies who die or are left severely disabled.
If you have experienced loss or injury in the course of childbirth and wish to discuss the issue, contact our experienced team of specialist lawyers on 0800 316 8892.