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17 May 2022

Clinical Negligence


Health Board Closes Maternity Services

Last week, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board announced that it is closing two of its maternity units until October due to staffing shortages. Debra King, senior associate in our Clinical Negligence team, reflects on how this can help reduce birth injuries.

It has recently been announced that the Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny and the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport will temporarily close their midwifery-led Birthing Units between May 9th and October.  This is the second time that these two Birthing Units have closed, following a closure in January 2022 due to staff sickness.

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board released a statement apologising for the inconvenience caused, but also commented that this decision is the right thing to do to help ensure the safety of women and to support their midwives who are currently under significant pressure due to the staffing shortages. The Board highlighted that the choice was made with ‘with the most effective pursuits of our mums and new infants in thoughts’.

The closures were announced by The Health Board via its maternity services page on Facebook. They reminded patients that it was still offering birth services at home and at a midwife-led birthing unit.

The number of births at the Nevill Hall and Royal Gwent Birthing Units were 20 and 24 respectively for the past 12 months. The Health Board says that the number of births impacted by its decision to temporarily close the birthing units will therefore be low.

The Birthing Unit at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr will remain fully staffed between 8.30am and 4.30pm, but out of hours this will revert to a birthing POD with a midwife attending for births only. Home birth options and the midwife-led birthing area in Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan remain available.

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board announcement is due to there being a shortage of midwives able to look after mothers and babies. This is a sensible decision to make, as staff shortage leads to midwives being severely overworked. This can then unfortunately cause errors.

What complications can happen at birth?

Most maternity care is wonderful – but sometimes isolated incidents can lead to an otherwise avoidable death. Or life-changing injuries for mother and/or child.

Sometimes, this can be due to lack of care, but it can also be outside of anyone’s control. Some birth-related injuries include:

  • Injuries due to forceps
  • Mismanagement of pre-eclampsia
  • Wrongly sutured episiotomies
  • Neonatal deaths
  • Neonatal illnesses
  • Anaesthetic complications
  • Mistakes with epidurals
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Birth asphyxia
  • Congenital hip dysplasia
  • Mismanaged labour/delivery
  • Failure to diagnose high-risk pregnancy
  • Injuring baby with a scalpel during Caesarean Section

The injuries detailed above are amongst the most common injuries and illnesses that may occur during pregnancy. Birthing injuries can affect both mother and baby, and can become deeply upsetting and traumatic

How can I claim compensation?

To be able to claim compensation in relation to a birthing injury, your baby will need to have been injured due to mistakes by doctors or other medical staff – before, during or after giving birth.

You can claim on behalf of your child at any point before their 18th birthday. When your child turns 18, they will have three years to make the claim (this is until they turn 21 years old).

Get in touch

Our team of expert clinical negligence lawyers have experience dealing with a variety of birth-related injuries and illnesses. If you feel like the care you received was inadequate, please get in touch with our birth injury lawyers today to specifically discuss what has happened to you and your baby so we can help get you the compensation that you deserve

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