The Ockenden report published this month investigated the incidences of stillbirths, neonatal deaths, maternal deaths, and newborn injuries over a 20-year period at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust.

The inquiry, led by former senior midwife, Donna Ockenden, revealed nearly 2,000 incidents including 13 maternal deaths, 200 stillbirths which could have been avoided (never events), and deaths of babies due to refusals to perform caesarean sections – making it the largest inquiry into a single service in the history of the NHS.

The report found the hospital was overly committed to keeping c-section rates at 10 per cent below the natural average, sparking widespread criticism from medical experts of the ‘natural birth movement’. In 2005, the Royal College of Midwives launched a campaign to encourage women to have ‘normal’ and ‘natural’ births and encouraged maternity units to keep c-section rates at 20 per cent.

With the Ockenden report revealing numerous cases of avoidable deaths and injuries had c-sections been performed, NHS England has since instructed hospital trusts to ‘abandon caesarean rates as a performance measure to prevent the pursuit of targets that may be clinically inappropriate or unsafe’.

The NHS also announced an extra £127 million funding boost for maternity services across England to ensure safer care for women and their babies.

This month, International Caesarean Awareness Month aims to raise awareness around all topics concerning c-sections, reducing preventable deaths, supporting recovery, and advocating for safe and healthy births.

C-section negligence

A caesarean section, also referred to as a c-section, is an operation whereby an incision is made into the mother’s abdomen and womb. While the UK is one of the safest countries in the world in which to give birth and the rates of stillbirths and injuries are decreasing year on year, childbirth is a complicated process and cannot always be without risk.

A lack of care or clinical negligence when performing a c-section can result in serious injury or death to the mother or baby. Signs of c-section negligence can include:

  • A delay in performing a c-section which compromises the health and safety of the mother and/or baby
  • A failure to recognise a c-section is needed
  • Botched or substandard surgery and stitching
  • Cuts or damage to the mother or baby
  • Infections

While it is impossible to eliminate all birth injury and trauma, there are some which are avoidable, and these types of cases form the basis of a compensation claim.

C-section negligence claim

In England and Wales, mothers have 3 years from their delivery date to make a claim for any injury caused to themselves but for the child, the 3-year limitation period starts from their 18th birthday.

In what is a very distressing time for parents, it is crucial that legal advice is sought as soon as possible to determine whether an injury to you or your baby was due to negligence and a lack of care at birth.

At RHL Solicitors, we understand that no one would wish to begin the long and emotional journey of claiming damages against the medical profession without good cause. However, it’s crucial to ensure you get the expert legal advice and support you need.

If you feel like your health has been adversely affected by negligent healthcare, contact our expert clinical negligence team here who will be more than happy to discuss the matter further.

RHL Solicitors will have no delays or waiting times in advising you on your situation and will be quick to get you the support and care you deserve.