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September 7th 2021

Birth Negligence

Why we’re proud to sponsor Baby Lifeline’s National Maternity Safety Conference – and contribute important patient research

Lauren Dale

Lauren Dale

Solicitor, Clinical Negligence

Why we’re proud to sponsor Baby Lifeline’s National Maternity Safety Conference – and contribute important patient research

The findings of a survey into how well supported parents feel throughout pregnancy and birth by health professionals – commissioned by Hudgell Solicitors – will be shared with delegates at the National Maternity Safety Conference this week.

The findings of a survey into how well supported parents feel throughout pregnancy and birth by health professionals – commissioned by Hudgell Solicitors – will be shared with delegates at the National Maternity Safety Conference this week.

We are proud to once again be the co-headline sponsor of the conference, which is organised by Baby Lifeline, the campaigning mother and baby charity.

The second annual conference will provide a platform for NHS managers and leading consultant obstetricians, gynaecologists, anaesthetists and midwives to share real examples of maternity safety improvement, learning and best practice, helping to drive up standards.

Our backing of the conference is part of our continued support of organisations like Baby Lifeline in raising awareness around the need to continually improve maternity care through training and development, and by ensuring lessons are learned from mistakes.

We have a longstanding relationship with Baby Lifeline, having previously backed its ‘Monitoring for Mums’ campaign, taken a petition to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to call for the Government to reinstate the Maternity Training Fund, and supported its calls for standardised maternity training across the UK.

This year’s conference comes on the back of the Government announcing a £2.45 million funding package in July as it aims to improve safety for women and babies and halve the 2010 rates of stillbirth, neonatal and maternal death and brain injuries that occur during or soon after birth by 2025.

Despite a 30% fall in neonatal deaths and a 25% drop in stillbirths over the past decade, a recent Government Health Select Committee report revealed 1,000 babies still die preventable deaths every year in England.

Experienced medical negligence lawyers on hand at Baby Lifeline Conference

Hudgell Solicitors will be represented at the conference in Birmingham by three expert birth injury solicitors – Shauna Page, Michelle Tebbutt and Lauren Dale.

Ms Tebbutt, who has been dealing with medical negligence claims since 2010 and worked at Hudgell Solicitors for six years, said: “Obstetrics cases form a large part of medical negligence work and over the past 10 years I have been involved in many cases involving injuries to both mother and/or baby, and sadly those where the baby has survived only a few minutes of life.

“For the most part, the injured party and their loved ones have suffered significant emotional harm and in all scenarios an understanding of that emotional grief is fundamental to being able to support and advise a client through the process.

“Campaigns by charities such as Baby Lifeline will continue to work towards pushing for improvements. I appreciate being given the chance to contribute and learn from the conference.”

Why we commissioned our own national birth injury survey

The team at Hudgells are passionate about improving maternity care for all and as many families we support following a traumatic birth tell us that they feel their concerns during pregnancy fell on deaf ears, or were too easily dismissed, we commissioned a birth injury survey, as a joint piece of research with Baby Lifeline, in the lead up to the conference.

It aims to give a voice to mothers, partners and midwives, asking them if they feel like they are listened to, whether they feel empowered to speak up to raise concerns, and what barriers may be stopping them speaking out.

We started by asking the view of mothers and partners by commissioning a YouGov survey in July, which questioned more than 2,000 parents on their experiences of their last pregnancy.

What were the key findings of concern from the YouGov survey?

  • Half of expectant parents were left feeling unable to raise their pregnancy concerns with healthcare professionals – with a quarter left feeling unsatisfied with the support they received.
  • More than a quarter of expectant mothers (27%) said their pregnancy appointments felt too short or rushed.
  • More than one in 10 mums-to-be (13%) said they felt unable to raise concerns which had previously been dismissed.
  • Some 12% of partners felt their concerns were not welcome or too small to be raised.
  • In total, 7% of parents felt a sense of shame and embarrassment when wanting to ask questions to their healthcare professional.
  • A lack of time assigned for appointments caused 34% of parents to feel they are not provided with easy access to their doctors and nurses.

Download the results of our Birth Injury Survey 2021 here

Next phase of our research to take place at Baby Lifeline’s conference

The results of the survey are to be shared with delegates at the National Maternity Safety Conference at the Hilton Hotel in Birmingham this week.

Healthcare professionals will then be asked to contribute in a survey on how they communicate with patients, enabling us to gain a view of the current position from those who care for patients, ahead of midwives then completing their segment of the survey.

Ms Dale, one of the three solicitors attending, who has been with Hudgells for 11 years, said: “I have worked with a number of families who have suffered a traumatic birth. It is with those families in mind that I am keen to work with charities such as Baby Lifeline who are working tirelessly to raise awareness and improve the standard of maternity care in the UK.

“Following our research, I was surprised and extremely disappointed to learn the extent that women and their partners did not feel listened to during maternity appointments and that some reported short and rushed appointments.

“Charities such as Baby Lifeline and events such as the National Maternity Safety Conference are fundamental in the fight to obtain transparency and accountability for the treatment that is being provided, for lessons to be learned when things have gone wrong and for families to realise there is support out there and they are not alone in the battles they are facing.”

Reports show improvements needed to close ‘gaps’

Baby Lifeline’s own research, meanwhile, has highlighted the continued need to campaign for improved maternity training.

Its ‘Mind the Gap’ report in 2018 outlined that there was little or no standardisation in the way maternity training is prioritised, provided, funded, assessed or attended across the UK and it called for the immediately reinstatement of the Maternity Safety Training Fund, which Hudgells supported.

It stated that funding must be provided to tackle the barriers to attendance and provision of training, including the releasing of funds that cover staff back-filling for those attending training.

Its 2020 report, ‘Closing the Gap’, highlighted how a significant proportion – perhaps as much as 50% – of the 2016/17 Maternity Safety Training Fund “did not go towards its intended cause” due to “inefficiencies in the administration of the fund and its ‘one-off’ nature”.

Baby Lifeline also conducted analysis to determine the minimum amount that should be spent on maternity safety training each year. It said time spent on training each year should be 20 hours for midwives and obstetricians, and 6.5 hours for maternity support staff.

It calculated that the training and backfilling of staff would cost just under £19million, meaning it would cost just £32 per birth a year to ensure maternity staff get the safety training they need.

Baby Lifeline’s conference to provide ‘opportunity for reflection and improvement’

Ms Page, the third of our solicitors attending the conference, who has specialised in medical negligence cases since qualifying as a solicitor in 2013, said: “As a solicitor who supports families through birth injuries and losses, the differing care between the various trusts is very frustrating and appears to come from a lack of standardised training and funding.

“When things go wrong, this can have a devastating impact on families. Baby Lifeline and the National Maternity Safety Conference highlight these issues and gives all involved in the process an opportunity for reflection and improvement.

“Our recent Birth Injury Survey highlights that significant improvement in maternity care is needed to improve expectant mothers’ and partners’ experience.

“My own recent experiences in maternity care reflect that of the survey and with campaigns by charities such as Baby Lifeline it is hoped improvements can be achieved.”

Among the speakers at the National Maternity Safety Conference will be MP Jeremy Hunt, the former Health Secretary and current Chair of the Health Select Committee, Baroness Julia Cumberlege, who is Chair of the National Maternity Review, and Sir Liam Donaldson, the Patient Safety Envoy at the World Health Organisation (WHO).

To find out more about the National Maternity Safety Conference, click here >>

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Download the results of our Birth Injury Survey 2021

Born in better care – How we support families following birth injury

How to make a birth injury claim

Click here for examples of clients we have helped make a birth negligence claim

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