£482m insurance spend as claims soar by 80%

The NHS spends nearly £700 on clinical negligence cover for every birth in England – one-fifth of its total spend on maternity care, according to a report.

A review by the National Audit Office found the NHS spent £482m on maternity clinical negligence insurance last year, and a total of £2.6bn on maternity care.

The number of claims has increased by 80% in the five years from 2007.

Last year there were 1,146 maternity clinical negligence claims, equivalent to around one claim for every 600 births.

The average claim payout for maternity clinical negligence last year has risen 9% above inflation in the past five years to £277,000, and it takes more than four years for a claim to be resolved.

The most common reasons for maternity claims in the last decade were mistakes in the management of labour and relating to caesarean sections and errors resulting in cerebral palsy.

The report said: “Adverse outcomes can have serious consequences for the taxpayer as well as for the women and babies concerned.”

Public Accounts Committee chairman Margaret Hodge said: “I find it absolutely scandalous that one-fifth of all funding for maternity services, equivalent to around £700 per birth, is spent on clinical negligence cover. The current system is not working as it should.”

The Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts handles all clinical negligence claims against member NHS bodies. It is a risk-pooling scheme for NHS organisations managed by the NHS Litgation Authority.