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The NHS spends the equivalent of £700 per baby on funding insurance against claims of negligence, the National Audit Office said. The average payment per claim is £277,000.
How does this compare to other negligence claims?
- £4,000 for an unnecessary scar after abdominal operation
- £100,000 for infertility
- £140,000 for blindness
- £200,000 for quadriplegia
While 1/3 of the entire NHS negligence bill goes to maternity care claims, only one in five claims is related to maternity services.
(Source: NHS Litigation Authority, data for 2012/2013)
An overwhelming majority of parents are "happy or very happy with the care they have received" in NHS maternity wards, a health minister told Daybreak.
Dan Poulter admitted there were a small number of births were "things can go wrong".
He also suggested new data about the cost of insurance in maternity wards had been oversimplified: "Less than one in a thousand claims in the NHS ends up with litigation but it is actually the quantum of each individual claim, the cost of each individual claim can be very high.
"There are very few claims but because when something goes wrong in maternity, and very tragically it sometimes does...you have got a lifetime cost of care for that particular baby because it may well be severely disabled."
Pregnant women should not be worried about giving birth on the NHS despite a damning report into the state of midwifery, a union chief said.
Jacque Gerrard from the Royal College of Midwives told Daybreak midwives were burnt out as they maternity services on the NHS were stretched thin.
"They will push themselves to the limit, that is the problem. They are burning out. We don't want to scare women. We are just reporting and feeding back on this report...which is underlining what we have been saying to Government for years, we need more midwives.
"But the mums that a pregnant, please don't worry. There are 700,00 births in this country, in England every year and the majority have healthy outcomes."
The NHS spends the equivalent of £700 per baby on funding insurance against claims of negligence, the National Audit Office said.
"I find it absolutely scandalous that one fifth of all funding for maternity services, equivalent to around £700 per birth, is spent on clinical negligence cover," said Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP who chairs the Public Accounts Committee.
Some maternity wards were forced to turn away patients for at least half a day because of a lack of space or a shortage of midwives, a damning report into pregnancy care on the NHS has revealed.
Data from the National Audit Office found:
- An extra 2,300 midwives were needed on the NHS last year.
- There was a failure to meet the levels of consultant presence recommended by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, on over half of maternity units.
- Between April and September 2012, over a quarter, 28%, of maternity units had to close their door for at least half a day.
- Of these 11% closed for the equivalent of a fortnight or more.
There is a "wide unexplained variation" in complications with new mothers and their babies, according to a wide ranging investigation by MPs into NHS maternity units.
The Public Accounts Committee found:
- In some hospitals up to 1.6% of women were readmitted as an emergency.
- However, this figure was as low as 0.5% in others.
- Infections rates in newborns also varied - some hospitals recorded 0.6% of babies suffered an infection, while it was as high as 4.2% in others.
A fifth of the UK's maternity services funding - £482 million - is spent on insurance against malpractice, a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) suggests.
The most common reasons for maternity claims are mistakes in the management of labour or Caesarean sections and errors resulting in cerebral palsy, the NAO report states.