Record birth rates mean NHS is facing a potential birth injury claims crisis

By Blackwater Law

Small shoes for unborn baby on belly of pregnant woman

Data released by Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that birth rates across England rose sharply from April 2020 to April 2021, heaping more pressure on an already overburdened healthcare system and exposing families relying on maternity units to a greater risk of medical negligence.

Risks mount as pressure builds on English maternity units

  • The ONS’s data indicates that 10,000 more births were recorded across all English regions (with the exception of London) between 2020-21, relative to the previous period, bucking a longer-term trend of decline.
  • During the same period, the NHS lost more than 600 midwives from the profession, amidst concerns surrounding pay and the standard of healthcare provision in the profession.
  • A 2021 survey by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) showed that 57% of midwives are considering leaving the NHS.
  • A June 2022 survey of NHS staff, including midwives, showed that around 80% would leave their jobs if current pay conditions were not improved.
  • A 2021 report by the House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee has also recommended that £250-350 million in funding be allocated to improve the safety and quality of healthcare provision in England’s maternity units, as a matter of urgency.
  • The RCM states that England is currently 2000 short of the number of midwives needed to provide adequate healthcare in maternity units across the country.

Medical negligence is more likely to occur when staff are overburdened or undertrained with regard to their duties. With maternity units across England facing such increased pressure, the families of those affected may be forced to make birth injury compensation claims to address the harm they suffer.

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Royal College of Midwives’ senior management voice concern

Reflecting on the increased birth rate figures, Birte Harlev-Lam, Executive Director and Midwife, at the RCM stated: “England’s maternity services are under massive and increasing pressures as births rise and serious midwife shortages worsen… This directly affects the safety and quality of care for women, babies, and their families.”

Executive Director Dr Suzanne Tyler also indicated that midwives and maternity support workers were “buckling with the sheer weight of demands on them” and that only “sheer effort and dedication” from the staff kept England’s maternity services safe.

Birth injury and maternity solicitors

Accredited by the Legal 500 and recognised as one of the leading birth injury compensation claims in the South East, Blackwater Law has a wealth of experience in supporting families affected by clinical negligence. If you are considering making a claim for damages resulting from a birth injury to the mother and/or baby, call today for free initial advice.

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