South London NHS Trust pays out £57m over childbirth and maternity failings

A South London NHS Trust has paid out more than £50million in childbirth and maternity medical negligence claims in the past five years, new data has revealed.

According to figures released under the Freedom of Information (FOI) act, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust has paid out  £56,976,228 in compensation for a total of 52 claims lodged against it since 2019.

The Trust – which runs Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Stadium Road, Charlton, and University Hospital Lewisham, in Lewisham High Street, as well as community services – paid out the third highest amount out of all NHS Trusts in England.

University Hospital Lewisham’s main entrance in Lewisham High Street (Picture: Google Street View)

Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust topped the charts, forking out £63,163, 013 and  £580, 027, 668 for maternity related damage claims since 2019, respectively.

The information obtained by legal advice company, Legal Expert, revealed that clinical negligence claims and incidents across all NHS Trusts in the last five years include 484 relating to babies with brain damage, 471 stillbirths and 342 mother or baby deaths. 

Of those claims settled, £980million was spent on compensation for cerebral palsy related claims and a further £600million was paid out for claims pertaining to brain damage caused by obstetric negligence. 

Table shows top 10 NHS damages payouts for childbirth and maternity negligence claims by trust (Picture: Legal Expert)

The leading cause of negligence, according to incidents reported to the health service watchdog NHS Resolution, included failures or delays in treatment and diagnosis as well as failure to respond to abnormal Fetal Heart Rate. 

Earlier this year an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) inquiry into traumatic childbirths called for an overhaul of the UK’s maternity and postnatal care after finding poor care is “all-too-frequently tolerated as normal”. 

The Birth Trauma Inquiry heard harrowing evidence from more than 1,300 women and found “shockingly poor quality” services. Some women said they were left in blood-soaked sheets while others said their children had suffered life-changing injuries due to medical negligence.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Picture: Google Street View)

A key recommendation in the report was for a new maternity commissioner who would report directly to the Prime Minister, along with ensuring safe levels of staffing. 

A Lewisham and Greenwich spokeswoman said: “Every birthing experience is unique and we work hard to ensure good outcomes for those using our services.

“It is never easy when births don’t go to plan but we are committed to working closely with women and birthing people to drive changes and offer the very best support and care.

“Within this data are four historical, high-value claims that were settled in this period and impact our figures. Over the last five years, we have been on a journey of service user-led improvements, including improved fetal monitoring in labour. We remain strongly committed to building on this going forward.”

(Picture: Büşranur Aydın, Pexels)

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