Maternity Review proposed ‘rapid resolution and redress scheme’ must not short change brain-damaged children

Published: 29 Feb 2016

AvMA broadly welcomes the Maternity Review published today (23rd February 2016) but is warning that the proposed ‘rapid resolution and redress’ scheme (a form of ‘no fault’ compensation)should not short-change brain-damaged children and their families and calls for robust safeguards.

AvMA believes that a well-run scheme would be in everyone’s interests – a scheme that is proactive in identifying when treatment has caused avoidable harm and offering full and prompt compensation and care packages without forcing families to take legal action.

However, the report proposes limiting compensation to a predetermined ‘capped amount’, regardless of the child’s actual needs. This would deprive children who have been brain damaged by sub-standard treatment of the compensation and support they need and deserve. Families need fair compensation to pay for expensive services and equipment that their children need to cope with the injuries caused.

The situation would be made even worse if families were compelled to access only services which were on offer from the NHS or local authorities. This would leave brain-damaged children with no choice or security over the services they will continue to need for the rest of their lives. Access to such services is subject to policy and priority changes in the NHS and in each local authority.

Unlike Sweden, on whose scheme the Maternity Review proposal is mainly based, England does not have the social security system or services that can cope with the complex needs of these children or guarantee continuity.

AvMA is calling for any such scheme to meet the following standards:

  • It must be sufficiently independent and expert enough to be able to investigate and determine whether cases meet the criteria for compensation.
  • It should ward compensation based on actual needs rather than a ‘capped’ amount
  • It must guarantee ongoing access to the services that the child needs, be that from the state or private providers
  • The family has to have access to specialist advice to empower them in the investigation and determination of their case
  • It is also imperative that families retain their civil right to resort to legal action if they need to (and we are pleased that the Review agrees on this point)

AvMA Chief Executive Peter Walsh said:

“The proposed rapid resolution and redress scheme does have a lot of positive potential but must be considered with extreme caution. Whilst no doubt well intended, it could end up depriving children damaged as a result of NHS negligence of the compensation and services they need and deserve. To be fit for purpose, such a scheme must be able to guarantee that children will get compensation and services based on needs – not just what suits the state. This was agreed with regard to the ‘no fault compensation’ proposals in Scotland. Why should children in England deserve any less?

“If the scheme is designed properly and operates fairly it would be in everyone’s best interests. We hope the Department of Health and NHS England will work closely with AvMA and other stakeholders to ensure any scheme that does emerge is fair and fit for purpose.”