The Government has set out encouraging plans for a new system of fast-track compensation for children injured as a result of medical error.
The announcement of the Rapid Resolution and Redress scheme comes after figures revealed that compensation claims against the NHS for catastrophic blunders in childbirth have tripled in a decade.
The voluntary scheme is intended to settle complaints more quickly and allow medical staff to speak openly about maternity care failings and learn from mistakes – which should be applauded.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted that, currently, families could wait more than 11 years for a court settlement.
Parents who believe medical errors caused severe damage to their children, such as cerebral palsy or brain damage, would still be able to take their cases to court if they wanted to, he added.
The Rapid Resolution and Redress scheme, which is out for consultation, would investigate the 500 cases of avoidable harm to babies, during birth, which happen each year in England.
Patient safety and justice charity Accident Against Medical Accidents has cautiously welcomed the proposals but says the compensation scheme needs to be designed very carefully to protect the interests of injured babies and their families.
AvMA chief executive Peter Walsh said: “It is imperative that safety is improved to prevent these dreadful mistakes happening so often, so we welcome the added impetus to that. We also welcome the principle of compensating people more quickly without the stress and cost of litigation.
“However, this also comes with a big health warning. The devil will be in the detail of these proposals. It is essential that any scheme compensates people fairly according to their individual needs rather than short changing them in return for a ‘quick’ settlement.”
Today’s announcement follows the publication of a report in June by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which found there are too many poor quality investigations into babies who die or are severely brain damaged during labour.
How can our medical negligence solicitors help?
For any mum or dad coming to terms with the loss of a new-born – or the realisation that their infant has been left with a disability – the ordeal is exacerbated further by the failure of a hospital trust to explain what has happened, to review the causes and to offer reassurance that lessons have been learned.
Gotelee has represented a number of parents who have been failed by the system and who deserve the right to seek damages. We pride ourselves on offering a compassionate and sensitive service.
By making a claim, you could receive the necessary financial help to deal with the consequences of an error, as well as providing closure and helping to ensure the same mistake isn’t repeated.
Our team of Suffolk specialist medical negligence lawyers are experts in ensuring that our clients receive the right compensation.