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NHS spends £700 on negligence cover for every birth

A review carried out by the National Audit Office has revealed that the NHS spends nearly £700 on clinical negligence cover for every live birth in England, £500 million overall and accounting for nearly a fifth of all spending on maternity.

The number of births has increased by nearly a quarter in the last decade, reaching nearly 700,000 live births.

The public spending watchdog said maternity services were generally good for women and babies, but there was still a lot of scope for improvement.  Its report highlighted “wide unexplained variations” between trusts in rates of complications such as readmissions, injuries and infections.
Public Accounts Committee Chairwoman Margaret Hodge said the figure was “absolutely scandalous”.

Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, has said:
“Whilst we are pleased that this report finds that NHS maternity units provide a good service for most women, we are greatly troubled by the news of variations in performance around the country.  The NHS is meant to provide top quality care to all the patients that it serves, and this should not be determined by where someone lives.
When giving birth, women need to know that they and their new born baby are going to be looked after to the highest possible standard, wherever they live. The Department of Health needs to rethink its Maternity Matters strategy in order to close the gap between the varying levels of quality of care that exist in the UK”.

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