Personal Injury, Serious Injury & Clinical Negligence

Newborn care under scrutiny in England

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), the organisation responsible for inspecting care providers in England, announced this summer a review of the quality of care provided to newborns and young babies with serious health conditions.

The report will be published in 2016 and will involve the assessment of 20 neonatal health services across England. This will include hospitals, midwifery services and other community care providers. The review hopes to identify failings and introduce new measures to combat unnecessary deaths of vulnerable babies due to poor care. One of the driving forces behind the process was the death of baby Elizabeth Dixon in 2001 when she died as a result of a breathing tube not being inserted correctly.

But the investigation will not just focus on hospital care; it will also look at the actions of midwives to ensure that problems during pregnancy are being properly identified and treated. Midwives are relied upon to spot conditions such as Pre-Eclampsia, which if left untreated could lead to the placenta collapsing on the child, starving it of oxygen. Many other in-utero problems or difficulties during birth can lead to babies being born with cerebral palsy, a condition affecting brain function due to oxygen starvation and leaving the baby with long term cognitive and physical disability and reduced life expectancy.

Clarke Willmott’s clinical negligence team are highly experienced in birth injury cases and represent many claimant’s whose children have cerebral palsy due to the negligence of the clinicians handling the pregnancy and delivery. Such cases cost the NHS millions of pounds per claim, due to the high levels of care and treatment that sufferers of Cerebral Palsy and other conditions require throughout their lifetime. This can include 24 hour private care packages, adapted homes and the latest technology to help children learn and communicate. There is clearly not just a human element to the need to ensure high levels of care, but a financial one too.

Professor Edward Baker of the CQC said “Everyone has the right to care which is safe and effective but we know from our inspections of maternity services there is a marked difference in the quality of the care provided”. He went on to say that the report will “identify what is stopping hospitals from providing good or outstanding care”.

If you or anyone you know has been affected by a birth related injury, contact Chris Thorne on 0345 209 1461 or Kerry Fifield on 0800 316 8892.