Pregnant women at risk of incorrect advice when calling 999

A recent investigation into the advice given to pregnant women who call 999 has unearthed concerning evidence that some may have been given incorrect or even harmful guidance. In some circumstances, this has likely contributed to worse outcomes and complications for mothers and / or their babies. Those affected could be eligible to make birth injury claims to help address the consequences.

Investigation launched after reports of unsafe advice given to pregnant mothers

The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) began a national investigation in early 2022. This followed a series of reports of safety risks associated with pre-determined advice given to expectant mothers making emergency calls.

The investigation’s findings indicated that:

  • Guidance offered to pregnant women calling 999 was often regurgitated from one of two pre-conceived pre-arrival triage protocols.
  • These protocols varied significantly from each other and were automatically generated via a clinical decision support system (CDSS).
  • Insufficient consideration was given to these callers’ individual medical circumstances before deciding which guidance to issue.
  • The advice given often did not match UK evidence-based maternity guidance that would otherwise be administered by a qualified doctor in a clinical setting.
  • Women could receive different advice depending on where they were calling from, with no consistency across different regions in England.

Key recommendations to help improve advice administered to pregnant women calling 999

HSIB issued three key recommendations in their report following the national investigation with a view to improving the quality of advice pregnant women can expect to receive when calling 999, it is hoped that by following these, the number of birth injury compensation claims may decrease:

  • The first was for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to work with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to improve the guidance issued by call handlers who are unable to see the patient they are speaking to, or to rely on a clinician’s first-hand advice.
  • The second was for the DHSC to develop a robust regulatory framework to oversee the standard of advice administered during 999 maternity pre-arrival calls.
  • Finally, investigators advised the NHS to further develop patient safety incident investigation (PSII) standards to enable better quality investigations into substandard care across different regions in England.

Birth injury claims following medical negligence

Whenever guidance issued by medical professionals fails to conform with recognised UK best practice or standards, those professionals could be guilty of medical negligence.

Expectant mothers given incorrect advice when calling 999 should speak to a clinical negligence solicitor about making a claim for birth injury to help compensate them for the harm caused.

Blackwater law’s specialist birth injury solicitors can provide free initial advice in relation to your case. Should you decide to make a claim you may even be able to do so on a no win, no fee basis, meaning there is no risk to your personal finances for doing so.

Get Expert Legal Advice

Call today and speak to Jason Brady, specialist medical negligence solicitor. Find out if you can claim compensation.

CALL 0800 083 5500