Government scheme for birth injury cases
The Rapid Resolution and Redress Scheme for Severe Avoidable Birth Injury is a proposal by the government to provide consistent and independent investigations for all instances where there may be severe avoidable birth injury, along with access to ongoing support and compensation for eligible babies through an administrative scheme.
The assessment process is proposed in two stages. Firstly, the investigating team will consider whether the babies injuries are “severe”. However, the government will be reviewing this following criticism that the definition is too limited. Secondly, the hospital will then investigate whether the injury was avoidable.
Responses to the consultation were published in November 2017, and most of the respondents considered that the investigators should be independent from the trust involved, thereby allowing families to have confidence in the investigation and its findings.
Following the responses, the government highlighted the subsequent areas which required further consideration:
- The final scope of the scheme
- The composition of investigation panels
- Where the scheme/different elements of the scheme should be located
- How compensation should be structured, including the size and timing of payments
The government has said it wants the final proposals to have the best chance of achieving their main objective: to reduce future incidents of avoidable harm. It is thought that the final policy proposal will be presented in Spring 2018, although it is not clear when the scheme will be implemented.
Part of the aim of this scheme is to provide a “rapid resolution”. However, the government acknowledges that there will be circumstances where the investigation process may take a considerable time. The long-term needs and prognosis of a child with a brain injury may not be known for several years. Therefore, this questions how “rapid” the scheme can actually be. In addition, cases of this nature require thorough investigation by experts with knowledge of the complex medical issues involved. It is hoped that the rapid response will not compromise the quality of the investigation.
It is understandable that the NHS needs to save money and the proposed scheme intends to do this, as well as reduce the time an investigation takes. However, birth injuries can be devastating to both the child and their family. In most cases the injuries are life changing. In these circumstances, it is questionable whether a “rapid response” is the correct approach.
At Anthony Gold we understand that childbirth is an emotional experience. We understand the effect that birth injuries have on the individual and their families. We understand the complex legal and medical issues involved, and most importantly, we understand the importance of obtaining the compensation our clients deserve to help support them through this most difficult time.