Medical Negligence

Is the Maternity Incentive Scheme, following East Kent birth injury scandal, actually working?

October 5, 2021
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Maternity Incentive Scheme – is it working? Lilly May Seddon, an assistant litigation executive, discusses the hospitals that are in the spotlight and the next steps.

It has come to public knowledge that several NHS hospitals, including Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust, East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, are at the forefront of a birth injuries scandal after wrongly claiming that they were among the safest maternity units.

Seven NHS Trusts will now have to pay a total of £8.5 million after self-assessments of their maternity services were identified to be false.

What is the Maternity Incentive Scheme?

In 2018, the Maternity Incentive Scheme was introduced by NHS Resolution, to address the fact that clinical negligence claims relating to obstetric care represented the biggest area of compensation. The Scheme was put in place in an effort to focus on 10 crucial safety areas within maternity and if Trusts can demonstrate they have achieved all of the 10 safety actions, they will recover the element of their contribution to the fund and a share of any unallocated funds. The scheme is a self-certificate scheme.

The Independent spoke directly with families who had sadly lost babies due to avoidable errors at the Trusts in question.  The families stated that in light of the recent news, it was ‘’further evidence of poor governance and management failings’’.

Over the first 2 years of the scheme, Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust had to pay back £953,000, after it was found that a dozen women and more than 40 babies died because of inadequate care in what is known as one of the largest maternity scandals in the history of the NHS.

Similarly, East Kent Hospitals University Trust will need to pay back £2.1 million. Mr Derek Richford, a grandfather to a baby who fell victim to the Trust’s mistakes told The Independent that it was “abhorrent” that the Trust claimed “vital NHS funds by falsely claiming that they had achieved 10/10 for maternity safety when the truth was in fact 6/10”.  It is believed that even when asked to check this figure, the Trust re-confirmed the erroneous data.  East Kent Hospitals University Trust is also now facing an inquiry into baby deaths and a criminal prosecution after the death of Mr Richford’s grandson in 2017.

The next steps

It is evident that these errors are avoidable and should not be happening in this day and age. More care and attention should be taken when performing maternity services.  Families are losing loved ones due to mistakes and are facing long lasting, traumatic suffering.

Figures show that in total, more than 115 NHS trusts have declared themselves to meet all 10 safety actions in the most recent year, with 14 NHS trusts failing on at least one measure.  Overall, standards are being partially met as opposed to these standards being met fully. Figures produced by NHS Resolution show that obstetrics cases in 2018/2019, including cases of cerebral palsy and birth defects totalled in at 1071 new claims, whereas in the year 2019/2020 the total was 1018, meaning that obstetrics cases dropped by a mere 53 cases over the 2 years.  Whilst figures show that cases have dropped, it is only by a very small amount since the scheme has been in place. It is evident that there is still a vast amount of work which needs to be done to restore faith into the work of NHS Maternity Services.

If you are interested in reviewing the Maternity Incentive Scheme you can view it here:

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