Early Notification Scheme

The NHS remains one of the safest healthcare systems in the world within which to give birth. However, avoidable errors within maternity can still occur, which can have devastating consequences for the child, mother, and wider family, as well as the NHS staff involved. Although secondary to the human impact, such incidents can also result in a significant financial cost to the NHS.

Obstetric claims accounted for 62% of the total estimated value of new claims reported to our clinical schemes in 2021/22, despite only representing 12% of the number.

NHS Resolution is committed to supporting the National Maternity Safety Ambition to halve maternal and neonatal deaths and reduce significant harm. In order to support achieving this, NHS Resolution’s Early Notification (EN) scheme proactively investigates specific brain injuries at birth for the purposes of determining if negligence has caused the harm.

We do this by requiring our Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST) members to notify us of maternity incidents which meet a certain clinical definition. The intention of the scheme is to:

  • Investigate potential eligibility for compensation and take proactive action to reduce legal costs and improve the experience for the family and affected staff;
  • Share learning rapidly with the individual trust and the wider system in order to support safety improvement and prevent the same things happening again;
  • Build on our Saying Sorry and Being Fair work to ensure the process to obtain compensation is not a barrier to openness, candour and learning;
  • Preserve evidence to ensure we are able to respond to cases that a family may choose to bring at a later date; and
  • Improve the process for obtaining compensation for families, meeting needs in real time where possible and trying to reduce the risk of claims increasing in value due to inflation or unmet needs (such as psychological support) translating into larger losses.

Since the launch of the scheme, we have seen some early successes against these objectives. The scheme has reduced the time between the incident occurring and being notified to NHS Resolution. In some cases, it has also seen a reduction in the time from the incident being notified to a decision on liability, with an associated reduction in costs. Early Notification has helped us to encourage trusts to be open about incidents with families and optimise opportunities to learn.

Further information for parents, family members or carers 

If you are a parent, family member or carer – please go to our Early notification page for parents, family members or carers for more information about the scheme.

Further information for Trusts or member organisations 

If you are a trust or member organisation, please go to our Early Notification page for NHS trusts or member organisations for more information. We have produced a number of case stories to help identify potential risks in clinical areas, promote learning and prevent fewer incidents like these occurring in the future.

Published reports

The second Early Notification report

Published on 29 September 2022, the report provides an overview of progress made since the first report in 2018.

It updates on the progress of the key recommendations which were made in the first report and reflects on modifications and improvements made to the scheme since its launch in 2018. It also provides an analysis of the main clinical themes, based on a small cohort of cases, and makes recommendations to further improve outcomes for affected families.

Head over to our dedicated page for the second report where you can also find a webinar which gives a detailed overview of the report, as well as an infographic with the key messages.

 

The first Early Notification report

Published September 2019, our Early Notification scheme progress report: collaboration and improved experience for families is available providing an overview of the scheme alongside a thematic analysis of a cohort of cases from year one of the scheme (2017/2018).

Head over to our dedicated page for the first report where we have also produced a summary of the Early Notification scheme progress report.

Contact

Please contact us if you would like to discuss the Early Notification scheme by emailing us at nhsr.enteam@nhs.net or calling us on 0207 811 6263.

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