The government’s newly announced plans to introduce a ‘fast-track’ compensation scheme for parents in England whose children who are injured at birth should be treated with caution, a medical negligence expert has advised.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced an £8 million funding investment for a birth injuries ‘rapid redress’ service in October this year.
The scheme is designed to save the NHS money and make claiming compensation easier and faster for those affected.
However, Stephanie Locke, Medical Negligence Solicitor at Bridge McFarland Solicitors, is warning parents that birth negligence claims can be extremely complex and with claimants being naturally emotionally vulnerable, there is risk that this rapid redress scheme will be pushed onto vulnerable people and they won’t receive the full compensation that they deserve.
Stephanie said: “There are cases where children have been left seriously disabled because of the mistakes made in the maternity hospital – brain damage caused by asphyxiation, Cerebral Palsy, and Erb’s Palsey to name but a few.”
“When a claim of this nature goes through the traditional clamant process the solicitor will sue for damages and try to ensure that the compensation is adequate to provide the care and support that person will need for the rest of their lives. “
Steph suggests that the NHS should ‘focus on the real issues’ and consider admitting liability sooner so that court cases don’t drag on for years and years.
Under the current system, it takes an average of almost 12 years for families to see a resolution to their case.
She added: “The purpose behind the introduction of the scheme is to reduce the number of stillborn babies and serious injury to new-borns. The scheme must properly address the totality of compensation that can be awarded but it is difficult to see how this can be achieved. If the NHS Litigation Authority simply admitted liability sooner and did not prolong the defence of meritorious cases then this would avoid the requirement for this scheme altogether”.
“There is of course also a danger that allowing the NHS to make these decisions internally, the public would lose a layer of accountability that is essential to ensuring that our medical standards are protected.”
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