Seven NHS Trusts have been found to have made false claims about the safety standards in their maternity services. Collectively, they will now repay over £8.5m in funding, which was awarded on the strength of their claims that their maternity services were among the safest in the country.
The funding was provided by NHS Resolution (the insurer of the NHS Trusts) as part of an initiative to focus on 10 key areas of maternity safety. In 2018-19 maternity claims accounted for 60% of all clinical negligence claims. The initiative aimed to provide a standardised level of safe care through key performance indicators aimed at protecting birthing people and their babies. This would in turn reduce the harm to patients and reduce claims.
Which NHS trusts were involved?
The trusts involved were Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital Trust, East Kent Hospitals University Trust, North West Anglia Foundation Trust, West Suffolk Foundation Trust, University Hospitals Birmingham, Northern Devon Healthcare Trust and Nottingham University Hospitals Trust.
The latter is a trust that I have a great deal of professional experience of, and I recently spoke to The Independent newspaper about my experience working with clients affected by severe failings at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust. These have included the parents of Wynter Andrews, whose inquest highlighted “obvious neglect” within maternity services.
What are the likely implications of these findings?
In recent years, the emergence of the funding from NHS Resolution has demonstrated that maternity services are seen as a key focus across the NHS. However, these more recent findings demonstrate a worrying lack of scrutiny into the claims of these trusts. The parents of Wynter Andrews were among those to ask how the funding has actually been used, given that significant failings – such as a severe shortage of midwives – still remain.
Of real concern is the fact that these trusts were unable to accurately self-report when entrusted to do so. It is representative of the experiences my clients have faced and shows a lack of robust services. It is echoed in the Coroners and the CQC’s findings into Nottingham.
The Independent article was published on Sunday and I expect to see further publicity nationally, as well as locally in each of the regions affected. It is our hope that the sector learns the lessons of these latest findings and that NHS trusts are held to account in a meaningful way. With Shropshire & Telford NHS Trust alone being responsible for the deaths of 12 women and over 40 babies due to poor care, there is little doubt that lives could have been saved by managing resources effectively, to properly address clear failings.
If you need professional legal advice relating to failings in maternity services, or any kind of medical or clinical negligence, call us on 0800 138 0458 or contact us through the website. We’ll be happy to discuss your circumstances with you confidentially and provide you with the advice you need.