Please refer to our Safety and Learning responding to Covid-19 page for latest updates on the maternity incentive scheme and Early Notification scheme.
The NHS remains one of the safest healthcare systems in the world to give birth. However, avoidable errors within maternity still occur and can have devastating consequences for the child, their mother and their 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 50% of the total estimated value of new claims reported to our clinical schemes in 2019/20, despite only representing 9% of the number.
Maternity, and how we can contribute to the delivery of safer maternity care, is therefore a key focus area for NHS Resolution. We are committed to supporting the National Maternity Safety Ambition to halve maternal and neonatal deaths and reduce significant harm. The Early Notification scheme is a key initiative to achieve this.
The scheme requires our Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST) members to notify us of maternity incidents that have the potential to become high value claims. This will help to enable us to have the following impacts:
- 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 seen us reduce the time between the incident occurring and the case being notified to NHS Resolution. On some cases it has also seen unprecedented speed in the time from the incident to a claims decision, with an associated reduction in costs. Early notification has also helped us to encourage trusts to be open about incidents with families and maximise opportunities to learn from them.
We have also learnt a lot since the scheme launched in 2017 and are also working in partnership with other organisations such as the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB). This has informed some of the changes we are planning to make to the scheme from 1 April 2021 onwards.
To learn more about the scheme and our planned changes, please use the following links:
If you are a trust, please go to our Early Notification page for NHS trusts or member organisations for more information.
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.
Our Early Notification scheme progress report: collaboration and improved experience for families is available providing an overview of the scheme to-date alongside a thematic analysis of a cohort of cases from year one of the scheme (2017/2018). We have also produced a summary of the Early Notification scheme progress report.
Five years of cerebral palsy claims: a thematic review of NHS Resolution data provides and in-depth analysis of the causes of incidents which lead to claims and the investigations which follow.
In November 2017 the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care updated on progress with the National Maternity Safety Strategy, bringing forward the ambition to reduce the number of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal death and brain injuries by 50% to 2025 (previously 2030). Our work is integral to the ambition and our Early Notification scheme was referenced as providing a new route for families to access compensation, based on the current principles of liability. The updated strategy also recognised the key role we have to play in helping to incentivise the delivery of best practice to improve safety, using the pricing lever of our main indemnity scheme, the CNST.
Please contact us if you would like to discuss the Early Notification scheme by emailing us at ENteam@resolution.nhs.uk or calling us on 0207 811 6263.
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