Safer Births – March 2019 update

25 March 2019

During the course of 2019 at Curtis Law we will be keeping people updated as to the Safer Births Initiative.

Obstetric Negligence cost the NHS 48% of its published negligence outlay in the last set of figures. I already have great concerns as do many of the profession about stand alone Birthing Centres which can be tens of miles away from Obstetric backup. This is in no way denigrating the excellent work that Midwives do, but for their own piece of mind and the mother and baby, when a birth goes wrong it is always easier to push the patient through a couple of doors than wait for an ambulance to start a 30 minute or longer transfer for backup and hope no fetal compromise occurs in the waiting period.

These pretty birthing centres with mood music and sensory support seem appealing but have not access to pain relief medication or backup from a doctor on site.

It therefore comes as somewhat of a shock and disappointment that in Wales, midwives are trialling delivery bags for ‘safer home birth’ -

These rucksacks are said to contain scissors to cut the cord, a hat and towels for the newborn and equipment for emergencies. Unless this includes all the solutions that would be available on an Obstetrics Unit (which I can confidently state it will not) you will be safer in hospital.

The majority of home births will be fine, but if you are the patient that experiences everything going wrong this emergency ruck sack is not going to save the baby from injury or perhaps death.

Even the most uncomplicated pregnancy can quickly change into a medical emergency during labour. This policy risks increasing this frequency as it will be these very patients who have had an uncomplicated pregnancy who will be affected by this policy.

NHS research into safer births already indicates that 6 out of 10 stillbirths happen at term and 3 out of 4 neonatal deaths may be avoidable with better care. This home birth kit seems to fly in the face of the aim to reduce baby deaths by 50% by 2020.

Preventing avoidable incidents is the key to reducing the Obstetric Negligence outlay of the NHS. Imbalanced promotion of home births and stand alone birthing centres will not reduce negligence.

The Clinical Negligence and Catastrophic Injury Team at Curtis Law is led by Jerard Knott, Senior Associate Solicitor, an APIL Accredited Senior Litigator and Clinical Negligence Specialist. We are committed to promoting Patient Safety. The team only acts for Claimants and is dedicated to providing a client care centered high level of service, providing the best possible advice and maximising damages. The department acts on a large number of fatal (including representation at Inquests) and high value cases. The department regularly advises on cases with valuation exceeding £1,000,000. We can be contacted on 01254 297130 or

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