Group B Strep Support has today published our report on clinical negligence relating to group B Strep, entitled The cost of group B Strep infection.
Our report found that GBS clinical negligence represents a significant burden to families and their babies, emotionally and financially. This negligence also has a significant financial burden to the NHS, both through successful clinical negligence cases and through ongoing care for many of the babies who survive.
The report looked at 32 cases of potential or admitted clinical negligence where a GBS infection was suspected or confirmed covering a period 2006 to 2018, and was based on a survey of six of Group B Strep Support’s expert Legal Panel members. We are grateful to our Legal Panel for providing their data, though all analysis of the data was conducted independently.
Settled cases and cases where liability had been admitted had a combined value of nearly £40 million.
This figure excludes ongoing cases, which could potentially cost another £10 million.
If all ongoing cases taken by just the six firms which contributed to the report settled in the claimant’s favour, the total cost to the NHS would be around £50 million.
We believe the best way to reduce the number of clinical negligence cases relating to GBS is simple; reduce the number of GBS infections and clinical negligence relating to GBS. The NHS could be learning a lot from mistakes that are made.
Our report found there were three main factors in making a clinical negligence claim:
- Failure to follow either local or national guidelines
- Failure to escalate cases appropriately
- Missed signs of infection, either in hospital or reported by parents
Families reported that they took legal cases forward for a variety of reasons, with there being three main themes:
- Dissatisfaction with investigations or the handling of a complaint
- Clinical failings around the time of birth or issues emerging later e.g. a child not meeting developmental milestones
- Need for financial support for the continuing care of a child
We’re calling for:
- Hospitals to improve their complaints and internal investigations process by involving families earlier and throughout the investigation.
- Hospitals to follow national guidelines from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists on group B Strep, and offer better training to staff involved in maternity care on preventing, spotting, and treating GBS infections.
If your baby has been affected by group B Strep infection, and you believe there may have been negligence, you may want to contact any of the charity’s expert Legal Panel. Our Legal Panel is made up of experienced solicitors who are knowledgeable and experienced in group B Strep clinical negligence cases – the most local firm or a ‘high-street’ firm may not be the best option. Group B Strep clinical negligence is complex and there are relatively few specialists with good experience of group B Strep claims.
And, if you haven’t already, please read our leaflet After your baby’s group B Strep infection which provides guidance if your baby has been affected by group B Strep infection.