£25m compensation bill for babies killed or injured by Scottish NHS

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THE Scottish NHS has paid out at least £25m in compensation since 2012 for hospital bungles that killed or injured babies.

NHS Lanarkshire was the single worst offender, paying almost £13m to parents of injured babies over the past four years.

And dozens of delivery room blunders resulted in NHS Lothian accounting for another £12m of the “shocking” total.

The figures, revealed through a freedom of information request, show that Fife and Greater Glasgow and Clyde also made payments to parents whose children died or were injured during birth.

Politicians and patients groups have now condemned the NHS for trying to “brush off” avoidable tragedies with big payouts.

NHS LOTHIAN
NHS Lothian and NHS Lanarkshire paid out the most over the four year period.

Documents from NHS Lanarkshire, show that between 2012 and 2015 a total of 15 babies were recorded as suffering “injuries sustained during childbirth”. One of the 15 babies died.

Over the same period, the board made compensation payments to the parents of five injured babies. One parent received an undisclosed sum following the death of their child.

In 2015, two claims were settled totaling over £9m. The previous year, two cases were settled totaling £2,165,000 and between 2012 and 2013 another two came to £1,508,000.

NHS Lothian paid out compensation totalling £12,105,000 over the period, £125,000 of which was for fatalities..

There were 11 “adverse events” in which babies sustained injuries during childbirth. Citing “data protection”, the board would only say that fewer than five of the cases proved fatal.

NHS Fife revealed there were 17 reports of injury or trauma during the period. They paid out  £18,500 in compensation for injuries between 2012 and 1015.

Fife paid a further £99,000 for babies who died as a result of the “standard of care provided immediately prior to childbirth”.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde claimed to have not paid out any money for injuries during this period  but did note that one payments under £50,000 was made in relation to a child dying during birth.

NHS Grampian admitted that five babies were injured and “fewer than five” died but refused to reveal how much compensation was paid out.  NHS Forth Valley and NHS Borders refused answer the question, claiming it would cost too much.

Dumfries and Galloway claimed no money had been paid out and Tayside claimed they did not hold the information and had “no resources to undertake the work”.

Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland, Highland, Western Isles and Ayrshire and Arran said they had no deaths, injuries or compensation payouts.

Margaret Watt, chairwoman of Scotland’s Patients Association, said: “This situation is shocking both by the fact that these incidents should never be happening in our hospitals today and secondly with the shortfall of monies in the NHS this money put aside could be put to much better use.”

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said: “It is vital that these tragic incidents are not brushed off with payouts.

“It’s important lessons are learned and there is accountability when such negligence occurs. That is the only way to reduce future incidents.

“The complaints process is so complex that even a sincere apology can often take years to arrive and this is obviously something which needs looked at.”

Last year NHS Lanarkshire paid out £5.25m to Scots mum, Nadine Montgomery following a 16-year-long legal battle.

Ms Montgomery, who is a Type 1 diabetic, gave birth at Bellshill Maternity Hospital in North Lanarkshire in 1999.

Her son, Sam was measuring large and ended up being stuck for 12 minutes while midwives tried to dislodge his shoulder.

While staff performed manoeuvres to release the shoulder he suffered oxygen deprivation, resulting in brain damage.

Ms Montgomery claimed that medics neglected to give her proper advice which could have led to her son Sam having a safer caesarean birth.

Irene Barkby, director of nursing, midwifery and allied health professions at NHS Lanarkshire, said: “Birth injuries during childbirth are extremely rare and a small number sadly may result in ongoing health issues for the child.

“From 2012 to 2015 approximately 19,000 babies were born in our maternity unit and there were six compensation pay outs in the same time period.

“However, it can take a number of years for complex claims to conclude through the legal process and therefore the number fluctuates year on year, with payments during 2012 and 2015 being made to historic cases dating back to 1993.

“Claims are dealt with on an individual basis and the figure agreed reflects the care the child requires for life which equates to why some figures can be high.”

Dr David Farquharson, medical director at NHS Lothian, said: “Patient safety is our top priority and injuries during childbirth are extremely rare. In all cases we carry out a full review to ensure lessons are learned. The cases involving compensation can be very complex and the amount for a single claim can be significant as it will reflect the care the child may require throughout their lifetime.”

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