You are here

Reducing the incidence of avoidable cerebral palsy

4 October, 2017
Child with cerebral palsy

A study which has looked at 50 claims against the NHS for negligent care resulting in cerebral palsy has made a number of key findings and recommendations to prevent incidents, learn more when things do go wrong, and resolve incidents better.

The recommendations from Five years of cerebral palsy claims: a thematic review of NHS Resolution data include:

  • Serious incident (SI) investigations must ensure the woman and her family are actively involved.
  • SIs are often poor with investigators receiving little or no training. National standardisation and dedicated education is required.
  • Cases of potential severe brain injury, intrapartum stillbirth and early neonatal death should be subject to independent peer review.
  • Improved emotional support must be made for staff throughout an investigation.
  • All staff to have annual training focussed on integrating clinical skills with enhanced leadership, teamwork, awareness of human factors, and communication.

Nigel Thomson, the SCoR's professional officer for ultrasound, says, "This well presented and very readable report focusses on obstetrics but there is much of general interest to Society members." 

He continues, "Overall the NHS is stated in the study's foreword to be the safest healthcare system of 11 western countries. The costs of medical negligence claims are, however, a major issue for the NHS. Total payments for clinical negligence in 2016/2017 were £1.7 billion but the true costs to the NHS in today’s prices that NHS Resolution will have to make provision for is £65 billion. This is money lost to patient care.

"The report highlights that there must be continuing efforts to move away from an individual ‘blame culture’. NHS Resolution’s new strategy approach to dealing with concerns is described on page 14.

"Essentially this is focused on prevention, learning and early intervention and a new model for incident resolution. It also contains a breakdown of claims and costs by specialty on page 17.

"Obstetric claims (likely to include those relating to obstetric ultrasound) are 10% by volume but 50% by value."

Download Five years of cerebral palsy claims: a thematic review of NHS Resolution data

Content tools

Accessibility controls

Text size