NHS Scanning errors


Critics round on NHS for paying compensation for "wrongful births" but what about the patients.


A story in the Sunday Times this weekend has claimed that couples are seeking thousands in compensation from the NHS following antenatal scans that were misread or where glaring abnormalities were not picked up. The parents in many cases have brought actions against the NHS due to the fact that they were nit given the opportunity to consider a termination in the knowledge that their baby was known to be severely disabled.

The NHS has apparently paid £70m to parents in these circumstances and this has led to criticism from some observers. It is a very contentious yet worthy argument that screening should not be considered merely a mechanism for parents to have a choice on terminating a potentially disabled baby. However the objective of such scans and tests ought to be to identify problems and provide the best possible advice for patients. If the advice is wrong and this leads to an outcome that could have been avoided, is it right that the NHS are accountable for this?

The term "wrongful birth” is used to describe these cases and whilst the issues remain contentious, the responsibility to identify problems and give the best possible advice to patients has to remain the NHS's objective. The parents deserve some sympathy for the poor advice that they have been given in these circumstances.