Giving birth and bringing home a new baby should be a joyful time but sometimes things go wrong. There has been increasing concern over maternity services in some parts of the country and sadly there seems to have been a failure to learn lessons. 

There have been investigations into failings in maternity services in several NHS trusts in England over the last five years. These recurrent failings led to the Parliamentary Health and Social Care Committee launching an inquiry into the safety of maternity services in England. The inquiry was launched on 24th July 2020.

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) submitted written evidence to the inquiry in September 2020. APIL expressed concern that recommendations made after failings had been investigated were not being implemented. They highlighted that litigation contributes to the identification of failures, and in turn provides learning opportunities, but only the NHS has the ability to learn from those failures.

APIL proposed the creation of a national, public, NHS learning and improvement database. Such a database would provide transparency and accountability about whether recommendations are being implemented. In addition, it could help to restore confidence for families who access maternity services.

Failures identified in East Kent in 2015 did not prevent further failings in 2017. In their evidence to the committee, APIL said it was unacceptable that it had taken the death of another baby to check if recommendations from a previous safety review had been implemented.

Sam Elsby, president of APIL, said the database would enable everyone “to see whether or not recommendations have been implemented by individual NHS Trusts and where the same failures are being repeated” and he added, “It simply cannot be enough for NHS Trusts to say ‘this will never happen again’”.

The contents of this article do not constitute legal advice and are provided for general information purposes only.

The contents of this post do not constitute legal advice and are provided for general information purposes only