Rapid response and redress scheme for severe avoidable birth injury

The Department of Health consultation on these proposals closes on 26th May. These are radical proposals and we would urge everyone with an interest in severe birth injuries to respond.

AvMA broadly welcomes the stated intentions of the scheme in providing an alternative to litigation in these cases and making sure there is learning for patient safety, but does have some major concerns. For example:

The scheme is based on the premise that in return for getting a quicker resolution and the services of a case manager, brain damaged children will get 10% less damages than a court would assess them as needing. We seriously question both the ethics and logic of this.

For example, why can’t the NHS ensure proper high quality investigation of incidents, identification of fault, and make early offers to compensate without either a scheme which deprives children of the damages they need, or litigation? The NHS should be doing this anyway.

It is proposed that the NHS Litigation Authority (or ‘NHS Resolution’ to use its new name) will run the scheme. As NHS Resolution will retain the NHSLA’s role in defending clinical negligence claims, and it is an NHS body, this would clearly not be independent enough to run such a scheme.

There are concerns about the timing of issuing of payments and accommodation costs which would disadvantage brain-damaged children and their families.

There is a presumption that care packages will include local authority provision. There is a need for clarity about the availability of such services, how their availability can be guaranteed long-term, and families’ choice.

There is a lack of detail of what independent specialist advice and support would be made available to families to support them in the scheme and help them make informed decisions about their options or how it would be paid for. This is vital if families are to be empowered in the process and fully understand their rights and options. If you would like to be kept up-to-date and receive our draft response, please contact us here.