At Fletchers Solicitors we deal with many cases where babies have either been seriously injured or died at birth due to negligence. When this occurs, the parent’s first wish is to know why and how this has happened. Compensation is rarely the primary motivation but the process of seeking answers within the remit of a negligence claim can be painful and lengthy. The parents will often face obstruction from the NHS and we have often thought that there must be a better way.
So, it was with pleasant surprise that we heard today from the Health Secretary – Jeremy Hunt – that all birth injuries and deaths will be investigated and compensation will be paid even where the hospital is not at fault.
Further details of the announcement can be found here
The full details of the scheme remain to be clarified and previous attempts to “fast track” clinical negligence claims have been fraught with difficulties. We would hope that all cases of fatal injury will be dealt with in the same way and that the scheme will be inclusive so that all parents, irrespective of the treatment given, have their loss recognised. The various scenarios are however endless and the extent of the compensation and the circumstances whereby it will be paid are crucial to an effective process.
Carol Brooks- Johnson, a senior solicitor in the clinical negligence team commented on this story:
“In some countries there are already “no-fault” schemes for certain injuries. In Australia, I worked in a jurisdiction where there was a no-fault scheme for accidents at work. It was not a bad scheme. It was not however, the answer to lengthy, combative and costly litigation. The rules and regulations were voluminous. The system of conciliation and then arbitration was lengthy. The pay back for not having to show “fault” (though lots of other hurdles had to be jumped) was that compensation was lower than in the civil courts.
So, whilst we welcome anything to take away some of the pain of losing a baby or having an injured baby, we will look forward to this proposal as the devil may be in the detail. We would not want parents to be put through an equally agonising procedure, that provides no overall improvement on the current system.”