A study by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has found that hundreds of baby deaths could be prevented every year.
The study looked at 1,136 babies who were born in 2015 and either suffered brain damage or died during, or immediately after birth.
The 1,136 cases were reviewed by 2,500 experts and they concluded that three-quarters might have had a different outcome if their care had been different.
Almost one in 200 babies are born dead. The NHS pays hundreds and millions of pounds each year in compensation to those born with lifelong brain damage that was caused during birth.
Several reviews have said the high number of stillbirths in the UK is linked to complacency and failure to investigate and learn from mistakes.
The report went on to say that hospitals must improve heart-rate monitoring and staff communication.
Lesley Regan, president of the college, told The Times: “It is a profound tragedy whenever a death, disability or illness of a baby results from incidents during labour. The emotional cost to each family is incalculable and we owe it to them to properly investigate what happened and take the steps needed to avoid making the same mistakes again.”
Review team leader Zarko Alfirevic, of Liverpool Women’s Hospital, believes that the systems in hospitals are to blame for mistakes happening again and again. He continued to say it was time that hospitals realised that it was not just individual staff blunders but the systems which allow everyone in certain circumstances to make the same mistakes every time.
He agreed that someone taking an overall view of a dangerous situation, improving protocols and communication were all “easier said than done”.
The Royal College report found that a quarter of local investigations into baby deaths were not detailed enough to draw any conclusions from, as only a third included anything from the parents and only a tenth had called in an external expert to look at the case.
Janet Scott, of the stillbirth charity Sands, said: “I am deeply shocked by this unacceptable rate of harm to babies in labour. The failure to carry out thorough reviews of what happened is inexcusable and must change. Judging by the quality of reviews done, many parents are not getting clear answers about events leading up to the death or harm of their baby.”
Pryers are a leading national firm of Medical Negligence Lawyers who have worked on hundreds of birth negligence cases. If you think you or a loved one have suffered, contact one of our friendly team today. Our dedicated team of lawyers and experts are well equipped to investigate and advise on all issues of medical treatment.