NHS errors blamed for hundreds of cerebral palsy births over the last decade, costing the health system £493 MILLION each year
- Analysis of negligence claims shows that serious errors include late delivery
- Cerebral palsy occurs when a baby’s brain lacks oxygen during birth
- It is estimated that 1,800 children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year
Damning new data has revealed that errors during childbirth are to blame for hundreds of children being born with cerebral palsy over the last decade.
An analysis of more than 1,000 NHS negligence claims shows that serious errors include delayed delivery and maternity staff missing signs of fetal distress and failing to respond to the umbilical cord being wrapped around the baby’s neck. .
The study, by law firm Lime Solicitors, acknowledges that errors leading to cerebral palsy-related claims cost the NHS an average of £493 million each year in compensation and legal fees.
Cerebral palsy is a lifelong condition that occurs when a baby’s brain lacks oxygen during or shortly after birth.
In most cases, this is due to difficult labor, but it can occur as a result of a brain infection or head injury.
An analysis of more than 1,000 NHS negligence claims shows that serious errors include delayed delivery and maternity staff missing signs of fetal distress and failing to respond to the umbilical cord being wrapped around the baby’s neck. (archive image)
People with the condition may experience difficulties with movement and coordination, as well as loss of speech, hearing and vision, and spinal deformities, and may require lifelong care.
The disability charity Scope says that approximately 1,800 children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy in the UK each year.
Robert Rose, head of clinical malpractice at Lime Solicitors, said: “Sadly, I’ve seen a lot of these mistakes before. We know the lessons that should have been learned, but unfortunately, time and time again, the same mistakes are made.’
In 2020-2021, 281 cases of preventable cerebral palsy were reported, the highest number since 2010 and a fifth of the ten-year total.
Over and over the same mistakes are made
The study comes amid a spate of recent research into preventable infant deaths in maternity units.
In March, an independent report revealed that 201 babies and nine mothers had died due to decades of failure at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.
Two months later, it emerged that the lead midwife behind the report, Donna Ockenden, was also leading a review of maternity services at the University Hospitals of Nottingham NHS Trust following dozens of infant deaths.
And last week, an inquiry into the quality of care at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust concluded that at least 45 babies have died over the past decade due to errors and ‘suboptimal’ care.