The UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has revealed a package of measures to make childbirth safer under the NHS.
Resources will become available to NHS maternity units across the UK to improve safety and create transparency across the NHS.
These measures also aim to dismantle the litigation culture that blocks a new voluntary compensation scheme that has been introduced as an alternative to costly legal fees for families with brain-injured children.
The Health Secretary announced that the NHS will improve maternity safety through 10 key actions that will be enforced over the next year.
10 key actions
- Consultation to develop a ‘safe space’ for health care professionals to openly discuss things that went wrong without fear it could be used against them in court or professional misconduct hearings
- A new Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch to be up and running by April 2017
- A Perinatal Mortality Review Tool to enable standardised recordings and investigations for every stillbirth and neonatal death to ensure lessons are learned
- The government will consult on a Rapid Resolution and Redress (RRR) scheme as an alternative to litigation that give families in such cases access to support quicker
- The publication of CCG Ratings to show how their local maternity services are performing
- The appointment of two maternity safety champions, Dr Matthew Jolly and Professor Jaqueline Dunkley-Bent, to lead this programme at national level
- An £8 million Maternity Safety Training Fund administered by Health Education England
- £250,000 innovation fund for proposals that aim to drive maternity safety
- A new national Maternal and Neonatal Health Quality Improvement Programme across all NHS Trusts. An initiative to support teams to develop new ideas and turn them into measurable improvements
- The launch of ‘Our Chance’ national campaign in partnership with Sands and Best Beginnings
In response to the Health Secretary’s announcement, MIDIRS Principal Editor Cathy Ashwin said: “In light of the announcement by the Secretary of State, MIDIRS would also like to add that these proposed measures will make the lives of women and babies safer and ease the pain and suffering when the outcomes of pregnancy and birth are not those expected. We would also like to add our support to the partnership with Sands and Best Beginnings in raising awareness surrounding the key issues of stillbirth and healthy pregnancy”
A Rapid Resolution and Redress (RRR) scheme is being consulted which will see eligible families go through an independent investigation and the option to join a system of compensation that provides support and regular payments without needing to claim through the courts.
A similar system was introduced in Sweden which saw serious and avoidable birth injuries reduce by 50% in the last six to seven years.
NCT Senior Policy Advisor, Elizabeth Duff, added: “We are particularly pleased to see steps to improve the care for parents who have suffered the loss of a baby. It is essential that any stillbirth review ensures parents are given a clear explanation of events and easy access to redress.”
More information about the Our Chance campaign can be found here.
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