Latest News & Views

Posted on 14th July 2017

Maternity Errors Cost The NHS Record Payouts

Official figures for compensation claims for 2016/2017 show that a record of more than £1.5bn was paid by NHS Resolution because of errors in childbirth.

In the last decade the cost of negligence has doubled showing the need for capping on solicitors costs. NHS Resolution (The new name for NHS Litigation Authority) have provided figures showing £1.7bn in total have been paid in negligence claims and of that sum £700,000 was spent on solicitors.

Charities such as AvMA (Action against Medical Accidents) have commented that the cost of litigation was so high because the NHS was failing to improve its standards of healthcare and NHS Resolution was spending more money than it needed to defending claims which cannot be defended because the negligence was clear.

Mr Peter Walsh, chief executive of AvMA said “The human cost of these perfectly avoidable errors is far greater than the financial cost” he continued “Most of these costs would be avoided if the NHS investigated incidents better, recognised then they were at fault and settled claims earlier”

Emma Hallinan, a representative of the Medical Protection Society which oversees doctors who have been accused of negligence commented “it is important that there is reasonable compensation for patients harmed following clinical negligence, but a balance must be struck against the society’s ability to pay. If the current trend continues the balance will tip too far and the cost risks become unsustainable”

The figures showed 10% of all claims in 2016/2017 were regarding babies who were left brain damaged at birth but the amount paid out to such victims accounted for 50% of the total value paid out. This is because the care that a brain damaged child will require for the rest of their life.

The main cause of brain damage in children during birth is because midwives do not have appropriate training on the use of heart monitors. During labour midwives fail to identify variances in the baby’s heart rate which could indicate oxygen starvation. Although Senior coroners have called for reform, we are yet to see this happen.


In general, the standard of healthcare we receive in the UK is excellent but in some instances, something avoidable happens which causes an injury to the patient. In birth related negligence, one example is the failure by midwives to correctly monitor the baby’s heart rate during labour. Abnormal variances in the baby’s heart rate is a clear indicator of oxygen starvation and unless the healthcare system is reformed and midwifes are trained specifically in monitoring heart rates, instances of brain damage in new-borns will continue to happen at a higher rate than it could be.

25% of enquiries we receive every month are birth injury related. If you or your child have suffered an injury whilst pregnant, during labour or after giving birth, contact us on 0330 355 9210 or for a free claim assessment.