A report has been published into The Early Notification Scheme, a national scheme for the early reporting by hospitals of children born with a potential severe brain injury following labour.
The scheme aims to support the Government pledge to half the rate of stillbirth, neonatal death and brain injury and improve the safety of maternity care whilst responding to the needs of families where clinical negligence is identified. It aims: to carry out early liability investigations where indicated to improve the experience for both families and staff affected and provide early support; Reduce formal litigation in the courts and associated legal costs and identify learning and share at national, regional and local levels.
The report covers cases reported between 1st April 2017 and 31st March 2018. It states that there were 746 cases that qualified for the scheme. To date 24 families have received an admission of liability, formal apology and, in some cases, financial assistance with care needs.
The report makes a number of recommendations:
- All families, whose baby meets the Early Notification criteria and requires treatment and separation from them for a potentially severe brain injury, should be offered a full and open conversation about their care. This should include an apology in accordance with the statutory duty of candour, a description of the intended investigation process and options for their involvement in investigations.
- An independent package of support should be offered to all NHS staff to manage the distress that can be associated with providing acute health services and in particular to those involved in incidents.
- Support should address mental health, wellbeing and post-incident care with access to referral for psychological assessment and intervention where required. This should be confidential and independent of appraisal or the revalidation processes.
- There is an urgent need for an evidence-based, standardised approach to fetal monitoring in England.
- Increase awareness of impacted fetal head and difficult delivery of the fetal head at caesarean section, including the techniques required for care.
- Research to understand the prevalence, causes and management of impacted fetal head is a priority, along with effective training in the management techniques.
- Work with existing national programmes to improve the detection of maternal deterioration in labour, including monitoring as well as the implementation of evidence-based guidance in all birth settings.
- Research to understand the prevalence and cause of significant hyponatraemia in labouring mothers in England should also be prioritised.
- Increase awareness of the importance of high-quality resuscitation and immediate neonatal care on outcomes for newborn babies. This requires collaboration between the whole multi-professional team.
At Gotelee our specialist medical negligence lawyers have experience of dealing with these very difficult and complex cases. Very often cases cannot be resolved quickly as the future capabilities and care of the child is uncertain until they are much older. However an early admission of liability and an apology with early assistance for the child’s immediate needs can make all the difference to the family faced with caring for a disabled child.
If we can assist you with a Clinical negligence claim contact us on 01206 211121 or email [email protected].