Yesterday I was reminded with such anger, sadness and indignation, as to why I do the work that I do as a medical negligence Solicitor. The Manchester Evening News published the most dreadful of reports concerning the failings of care in maternity services in the Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.
The report (which it seems the Trust were reluctant to disclose) detailed not just errors but woeful inadequacies, perhaps the most compelling of all being the image of a premature baby left to die in a sluice room (waste room) alone, without any human comfort or dignity. How can this be? Not here. Surely?
The report comments that mothers were placed at “unacceptable risk”, long term failures led to “high levels of harm for babies” and cites a catalogue of deaths and serious injury caused by poor decisions by clinicians and what amounts to a lack of basic care. Warnings were repeatedly ignored.
I expected this was coming as I see the outcomes for those who feel harmed seeking help from me or colleagues. Yet I am still horrified.
I love our NHS. I am proud of the free access to treatment. I am not (despite what the mass media would have you believe) in favour of a claims culture. I am however in favour of levels of excellence in care and an openness when things do go wrong. We all accept that humans can make mistakes, but there really is a limit.
So today, as a mother, my thoughts are with all those mothers, fathers and babies who have been affected. I know all too well that there is nothing anyone can do to right the wrongs. But, we can look for answers, openness, acknowledgment of responsibility and accountability and recompense (which could never be adequate).
This report goes to the core of our very beings, where at our most vulnerable we place ourselves in the hands of professionals expecting that they will treat us with care and compassion and do their very best. We have no option but to trust.
So today, I am proud to say I am a Clinical Negligence Solicitor. I spend my life fighting for answers for families where things have gone wrong and trying to ensure that changes are made so that mistakes aren’t repeated. I make no apologies that I and my colleagues challenge institutions in the hope that things will improve.
This report should cause outrage. My thoughts are with all the families affected.