I was shocked to read today of an inquest into the death of a baby which has been halted by the Avon coroner. Criminal charges are said to be under consideration.
The baby died from brain damage caused by oxygen starvation five days after his birth at the Royal United Hospital in Bath. The labour ward co-ordinator told the inquest that she had questioned why the planned emergency caesarean section delivery had been delayed and that she recalled a conversation with the on-duty registrar who believed it should have gone ahead.
When asked why there was no record of the conversation in her statement, she told the coroner that it was “removed from my statement” by the Trust’s legal team. The coroner said the alleged removal of evidence by a solicitor was a “very serious matter” which could amount to perverting the course of justice.
This happens against the background of the so called “Duty of Candour” recently imposed on medical staff and the proposed government plan for a Rapid Resolution and Redress Compensation Scheme for Brain Injured Patients.
I just wonder how there can be public confidence in such a scheme when looking at the events at the Inquest reported today?
It can only be hoped this was an isolated event but my experience as a clinical negligence solicitor acting for claimants does not fill me with confidence. It is amazing how often claims are initially strongly defended only to have the Defence collapse late in the case. This is extremely wasteful of precious NHS resources and the blame is always put on the injured person’s lawyers for the wasted time and money!!