19 January 2011
Maternity Services in Crisis
So the planning for midwifery services has not been 'quite as it should have been'. A remarkable understatement from David Nicholson, Chief Executive of the NHS, to a House of Commons select committee. He estimated the shortage of midwives at 4,500 and said that the NHS seems unsure how to recruit and retain more. It seems that shortages are reaching crisis point in some parts of the country.
Apart from being a major life event in which women need good support, proper care is crucial to ensure that babies are born safely and in good health. 1 in 400 babies are born with cerebral palsy. Children with cerebral palsy often face a life of serious disability, reliant on daily care. Their stories are a tragedy for themselves and their families. 10% of these babies are injured by avoidable medical accidents usually when deprived of oxygen to the brain during the process of birth.
Better midwifery and obstetric care would reduce the numbers. The costs of caring for these seriously disabled babies can be enormous. In financial terms it would make sense to spend more on midwives and obstetricians in NHS hospitals in order to avoid paying the much greater costs of care, let alone the incalculable benefits to the individuals and their families of avoiding some of these catastrophic injuries.
So hearing that planning has not been 'quite as it should have been' will come as something of an admission for the families of many tragically injured people in the UK.
Paul Sankey is a solicitor specialising in clinical negligence. If you or a member of your family have a clinical negligence enquiry please call our expert clinical negligence solicitors on 0800 916 9049 or contact us online and one of our specialist clinical negligence team will be in touch.