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Posted on 9th August 2017

Hundreds Of Baby Deaths Caused By Maternity Ward Blunders

A review by the Royal College of Obstetricians (RCOG) published in June 2017 identifies sub-standard care is the cause of between 500 and 800 baby deaths each year.

Accounting for around 10% of obstetric clinical negligence cases in 2016 – 2017, the compensation payments paid to families of the babies who survived but had brain damage, totalled in the region of £2.19 billion. This sum was approximately 50% of the total cost of obstetric claims in that year.

Two years ago In the Law Society Gazette, Catherine Dixon formerly of the NHS Litigation Authority wrote “Unforgivably, many parents whose babies die or are harmed through hospital errors face years of legal action before the NHS admits it is in the wrong” She also commented “You would think every action would be taken to stop damaging babies’ brains. If the cost runs into billions and the result is untold misery to babies and their families, isn’t it worth investing more to stop this from happening?”

In one reported instance, a baby boy was declared dead only 11 minutes after being born. When legal action commenced, it took almost five years before liability was admitted even though an internal inquiry by the hospital found 18 avoidable errors and 8 different midwives were present during the mum’s 14 hour labour.

In 2015 the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists launched Each Baby Counts in an attempt to reduce the number of harmed or fatally injured babies during pregnancy and childbirth.

The June report by the RCOG detailed how 1136 babies were harmed or died during labour. It has found that of the investigations into the standard of care given to the babies, 284 investigations were done so badly that no conclusion could be given.

Of the remaining 727 babies which the standard of care was able to be reviewed, 556 may have had a different outcome had the standard of care been better. The review also found that around 25% of families were unaware that there was an investigation into the causes of the death of their child.

The most common area in which care was substandard was in relation to monitoring of the babies heart rate using an electronic foetal monitor. 63% of cases related to failure to act upon suspicious readings and 49% related to errors interpreting the cardiotocography.


A medical expert has commented at an inquest into another baby death “It’s commonplace for midwives to qualify without having training in using foetal heart monitoring equipment”

In a recent case reported by the media, it was found that a trainee midwife was left to monitor the heartrate of a baby despite telling her superior that she didn’t have any training in doing so. This resulted in the midwife failing to spot that the baby was in distress and an emergency C-section was required.

Medical Negligence compensation claims are brought for a variety of reasons from cuts to the baby during assisted delivery to the baby suffering from oxygen starvation and even death during labour.

If you or a loved one has been injured during pregnancy or labour, telephone 0330 355 9210 or for a free claim assessment.