Cautious welcome to maternity safety and compensation proposals

Published: 17 Oct 2016

AvMA has given a cautious welcome to proposals announced today by Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt for an alternative compensation scheme for maternity cases and improvements to patient safety. However, the charity warns that the compensation scheme needs to be designed very carefully to protect the interests of injured babies and their families.

AvMA chief executive Peter Walsh said:

“It is imperative that safety is improved to prevent these dreadful mistakes happening so often, so we welcome the added impetus to that. We also welcome the principle of compensating people more quickly without the stress and cost of litigation.

“However, this also comes with a big health warning. The devil will be in the detail of these proposals. It is essential that any scheme compensates people fairly according to their individual needs rather than short changing them in return for a ‘quick’ settlement. The people investigating and making decisions about these cases need to be totally independent, and the families themselves need to be empowered in the process through the provision of specialist independent support and legal advice.

“We are yet to see any real detail about how the proposed scheme will work. We do not want people to feel pressurised into accepting something less than they need and deserve just to save the NHS money. The main emphasis should be on prevention.”