Lancashire hospital trusts pay out £97m for childbirth and maternity failings

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Hospitals across Lancashire have paid out almost £100m in negligence claims for childbirth and maternity failings in the last five years.

An investigation by Legal Expert has revealed that the five main trusts across the county have had 152 such claims lodged against them since 2019, and have paid out more than £97m in settled cases combined.

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has paid out the highest amount totalling £32m (23 claims), followed by East Lancashire Hospital Trust which forked out £24m (27 claims).

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Lancashire Teach Hospital Trust paid £19m (20 cases), while University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay paid £17m (11 cases). South and Ormskirk Trust also £4m (15 cases) - not including legal costs. 

Details of the Lancashire cases have not been revealed, but nationally the most claims were because of stillbirths, other fatalities and cerebral palsy.

Legal expert

Harrowing evidence

The research was conducted in the wake of the UK’s first-ever parliamentary inquiry into birth trauma earlier this year which heard harrowing evidence from 1,300 women. Some said they were left in blood-soaked sheets while others said their children had suffered life-changing injuries due to medical negligence. 

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Information obtained via Freedom of Information Requests revealed that a total of 152 childbirth and maternity clinical negligence claims and incidents were reported against the five Lancashire trusts to NHS Resolution, which handles negligence cases on behalf of the health service. Figures obtained by Legal Expert show that a total of 106 claims have been closed or settled by the trusts between 2019-20 and 2022-23.

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Clinical negligence claims and incidents across all NHS Trusts in the last five years include 484 relating to babies with brain damage, 471 stillbirths and 342 mother or baby deaths. Of those claims settled, £980 million was spent on compensation for cerebral palsy-related claims and a further £600 million was paid out for claims pertaining to brain damage caused by obstetric negligence. 

The leading cause of negligence according to the claims and incidents reported to NHS Resolution during this time include; Fail/delay in treatment and diagnosis as well as failure to respond to abnormal Fetal Heart Rate. 

New maternity commissioner

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Earlier this year, Conservative MP, Theo Clarke and Labour MP, Rosie Duffield co-chaired the UK’s first-ever parliamentary inquiry into birth trauma, calling for an overhaul of maternity and postnatal care after finding poor care is “all-too-frequently tolerated as normal.”

A key recommendation in its report was for a new maternity commissioner who would report directly to the prime minister, along with ensuring safe levels of staffing. 

According to NHS Resolution, “maternity claims represent the highest value and second highest number of clinical negligence claims.” 

What do the Trusts say?

All five trusts have been contacted for comment.

Vanessa Wilson, director of children, young people and maternity for NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board, said: “Safe patient care is the highest priority for all NHS trusts across Lancashire and South Cumbria, with robust processes in place to ensure we learn from the experiences of patients if their experience does not meet our high standards. Collaborative work is taking place across our maternity and women and children’s services to draw from these experiences and make improvements to the standards and quality of care.”

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