Rapid Response and Redress scheme has potential but needs radical changes

The Department of Health’s consultation on proposals for a Rapid Response and Redress scheme for brain damaged children in maternity cases in England closes on 26th May.

The scheme has good intentions which we support, but we’re concerned that the proposals have not been thought through properly and lack detail. We are calling for major changes to the proposals and asking whether there are better ways to achieve the same objectives. Such a scheme would be unnecessary if NHS organisations investigated properly, complied with the duty of candour and settled cases early.

There are two elements to the scheme that are particularly concerning. Firstly, compensation to the parents of brain-damaged children would be 10% lower than a court would award. And secondly, the scheme would be run by NHS Resolution (until recently the NHS Litigation Authority), which is responsible for defending claims against the NHS.

Suzanne Shale, Chair

“ We broadly welcome the scheme, which certainly has good intentions, but there are many questions still to be answered.

“As it stands the scheme would be funded from damages that would otherwise go to children who have been brain damaged through NHS negligence. Each child stands to lose an average of £600,000. We seriously question the ethics of this approach.

“We call on the NHS to investigate these cases properly in the first place and offer a prompt settlement without depriving brain damaged children of 10% of their damages. This should be happening already!

“If this scheme goes ahead it must be completely independent. People will not have confidence if NHS Litigation has a role in administering the scheme, but the current proposals contain no details on how the investigators and panel members will be selected.

“Most importantly, families must be at the heart of the scheme. Yet despite referring to legal advice for parents, the proposals give no clue as to how this will be provided or funded.”

Suzanne Shale, AvMA Chair of Trustees