Jeremy Hunt has announced a new rapid compensation scheme for families of babies disabled due to medical blunders, good news on the face of it, but affected families could be left with significantly less than they need according to medical negligence solicitors at Linder Myers.
Hunt has launched the initiative in a bid to make the NHS more transparent and to help those impacted to ‘avoid the anguish of going to court’. Additional funding has also been promised for NHS training and for improvements to maternity care, setting targets to reduce the number of still births and neonatal deaths by 2030.
Birth trauma medical negligence solicitor Julia Bridges said: “It is good news that the Government will be providing additional funding to improve maternity care across the NHS. When things go wrong during the birth of a baby, the harm lasts a lifetime. We have represented a number of families whose children have been tragically brain damaged at birth due to avoidable medical errors.
“In my experience, these families are forced down the legal route due to the hospital involved not admitting that mistakes have been made, despite being given the opportunity to investigate the care and respond via the existing complaints procedure. In these cases, babies are disabled for life including suffering cerebral palsy and other birth related conditions which mean that they will have a need for care lasting their entire lives.
“It has been quoted that families in these circumstances wait an average of 11 years to receive compensation, with the new scheme promising to reduce this wait. In reality, the length of time taken to complete the legal process is often dictated by the approach taken by the NHS Trust and I would welcome a more open approach from the outset, as promised by the new scheme. It is vital to see how the child progresses as they get older to properly understand how the injury has affected them and to properly calculate the cost of the care they will need as a result. Carrying out this exercise properly inevitably takes time.
“The worry is that the promise of rapid response compensation will result in claimants receiving much less than they will need to cover the costs of home adaptations for example, or 24 hour care for life. In these cases, we will often secure interim payments to cover the care costs faced by families whilst the legal process is ongoing.
“It will be interesting to see, when the consultation is published, how compensation will be calculated and whether it will be based on a ‘one size fits all’ tariff system. What it should do is to emulate the compensation which is currently achieved through litigation which typically sees claimants receiving a lump sum to pay for adapted accommodation, followed by carefully calculated annual payments which are index linked and guaranteed for the lifetime of the injured child to cover the cost of their lifelong care needs.
“While greater openness about the cause of birth related injury is very welcome, it remains to be seen whether the new scheme will be designed to deliver the right level of compensation to meet lifetime needs. If there is a shortfall, claimants will lose out and the burden of the costs of their care will fall back to the state.”
If your child has been left disabled due to medical blunders, contact a member of our team for a free initial consultation on 0800 085 3295. Alternatively, contact us with details of your potential claim by email email@example.com.Download our step by step guide to pursuing a medical negligence claim guide Find out more about our Medical Negligence team