A report on the failings at Mid and South Essex NHS Trust has been published, highlighting that the Trust had received claims relating to over 100 serious negligence incidents, arising from care in the maternity unit, over the preceding 10 years.
The report highlighted that the claims where compensation was paid during this period included 36 mother or baby deaths, 31 babies who had suffered an acquired brain injury, 24 babies who had suffered a cerebral palsy injury and 27 incidences of failings which had resulted in stillbirths.
The Essex NHS Trust is just one of many NHS Trusts in England where staffing shortages and insufficiency in resources have resulted in numerous avoidable, and sometimes devasting, injuries in what should be the happiest of times for families.
The Trust highlights that numerous steps have been undertaken to address the shortcomings identified by the CQC investigation, including the hiring of 40 additional midwives.
Hollie Weller, a solicitor in Shoosmiths’ Reading office (Thames Valley), who specialises in claims arising from mismanagement of labour commented: “The utterly devastating consequences which arise from cases of clinical negligence are unimaginable for many of us. The steps that Mid and South Essex NHS Trust have taken to try and combat the failings identified by the CQC and to ensure that no family has to deal with the loss of a loved one or feel the impact of a life changing injury to their new born child, are encouraging”.
However, despite attempts to improve the maternity care at the Trust, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) stated in 2020 that they remained concerned about the staffing levels within the maternity units.
The issues within the Trust were highlighted by a number of whistle-blowers, who came forward to report their concerns regarding the safety of the patients under the care of the maternity ward.
Denise Stephens, a partner in the Clinical Negligence Team at Shoosmiths who specialises in catastrophic injury claims and represents children who have suffered an acquired brain injury as a result of negligence at birth, welcomes the openness of the investigations: “It is imperative that the staff on the ground in the Trust feel empowered to speak out when areas of concern are identified; change is only possible through honesty and transparency, enabling maternity service providers to learn from previous incidents. Whilst we work to compensate families who have suffered as a result of negligence, the hospital Trusts’ work in addressing failings before claims arise is of paramount importance”
This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2022