The National Audit Office (NAO) findings that nearly a fifth of all spending on maternity services relates to compensation claims comes as no surprise. With a 25% increase in births over the last decade, maternity services have failed to keep up with increasing demands made upon them. Following a report by The Care Quality Commission (CQC) in 2012, The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) urged the Government to take this issue more seriously and to increase the number of midwives. A similar warning was given by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) earlier this year calling for specialist-led care to improve maternity provision.
The NAO report yet again highlights the “wide unexplained variations” between hospital trusts and supports the RCM and RCOG by calling for an additional 2,300 midwives to be recruited across England and pointing out that the standards set the RCOG are not being met.
More investment is needed to avoid a further increase to the £482m spent last year in clinical negligence for maternity services in England. Additional midwives and better regulation of the care provided will help to ensure that mothers are likely to receive a good quality service no matter where they live.
Kay Taylor, senior associate at Penningtons Manches commented: “Huge demands are currently made on our maternity services and we can only hope that the Government will heed the recommendations made by the all of these organisations to improve care across the country. Increasing the number of midwives available across the NHS will help to ensure that, wherever possible, new mothers can enjoy what should be a wonderful time in their lives with a new addition to the family.
“We are regularly contacted by families who have lost a baby at birth or shortly afterwards as well as families who are coming to terms with their child suffering a lifelong disability through no fault of their own. The increase in compensation costs to the NHS only serves to highlight that maternity services are at crisis point and urgent action is needed.”