An estimated 1,800 children are diagnosed every year with the condition – a form of brain damage usually caused by oxygen deprivation. Figures reveal that from 2010 to 2020, NHS trusts settled 1,441 clinical negligence claims related to cerebral palsy – an average of 144 every year. NHS Resolution paid out £4.3billion in damages, an average of £3million per case, along with £613million in legal fees.
Last year 268 cases were brought, the highest number in more than a decade. Lawyers suggest this could be down to redeployment of staff during the pandemic.
Robert Rose, from Lime Solicitors, said: “One of the main causes of cerebral palsy is hypoxic brain injury during childbirth, where a baby’s brain is starved of oxygen. Sometimes this cannot be prevented or it is impossible to work out what caused the child’s injuries.
“However, negligent mistakes by healthcare professionals can lead to a hypoxic brain injury. Errors can include delayed delivery, birth injuries and failing to respond to the umbilical cord being wrapped around a baby’s neck and missing signs of foetal distress.”
The health service said: “The NHS is committed to providing safe, compassionate maternity services, and is accelerating action to reduce the number of stillbirths, neonatal mortality and serious brain injuries by 50 per cent by 2025. The NHS recently committed £127million to boost maternity services across the country.”