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Midwives claim negligence payouts are symptom of staff cuts

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Medical negligence payouts for maternity care worth almost £1bn reveal the dangers of cutting back on staff and services, says the Royal College of Midwives.

Figures revealed in parliament show the combined total damages of all settled claims that arose from maternity care between 1995 and the end of this September totalled £946m. The data was supplied by the NHS Litigation Authority.

But Louise Silverton, deputy general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said: ‘The almost £1bn the taxpayer has had to pay out in damages for obstetric-related maternity care claims underlines what a false economy it is to cut back on maternity care. We have seen spending on maternity care in some regions yo-yoing in recent years.

‘Women need – and deserve – to have one-to-one care once in labour from a midwife, but due to staff shortages midwives are struggling to give women the care they should receive. It is vital that pregnant women also receive regular and continuous antenatal care from midwives, as well as doctors, if necessary,’ she said.

‘There is, however, a shortage of community midwives to deliver antenatal care, as they are being pulled back to work on maternity wards to address staff shortages elsewhere,’ she added.

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