Patient Safety & Clinical Negligence

A leaked memo sent to GPs on 17th  January 2020 has revealed that patients have had to sleep overnight in the A&E unit of Sunderland Royal Hospital, because it is overwhelmed by the number of people needing care.

 The overcrowding at Sunderland Royal Hospital is the latest example of how NHS hospitals have been struggling to cope with demand this winter.

 The lead for EveryDoctor, a network of frontline NHS medics, Dr Julia Patterson, said: “this email perfectly illustrates the immense strain that NHS hospitals are currently under…” “This is a hospital where all staff are working extremely hard to cope with increased winter pressures. But after 10 long years of austerity, the NHS is underfunded and understaffed, and there is little resilience left in the system.”

 This leak follows reports in December 2019 that Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust advised its senior doctors to make “the least unsafe decision” when deciding how best to treat patients, again because it was under what its medical director said was extreme pressure.

 At Graystons we wholeheartedly appreciate the value of the NHS and the hardworking staff. Unfortunately, however mistakes do happen especially when the NHS is under so much pressure. These medical accidents can lead to life changing injuries for patients and their families. We are here to support families get answers should this happen and can help secure fair compensation should lives be affected in such a way.

 If you feel you or a loved one has been affected by medical failures or substandard care, you can contact Graystons for further assistance. We can also advise you on the range of funding options available to you, including whether you may be able to fund any legal action under a “no win, no fee agreement”.


The top cause of clinical negligence claims against the NHS is mistakes in the accident and emergency departments. In particular delays, misdiagnosis and poor treatment have become more common than in the past, overtaking orthopaedic claims. In 2017/2018 NHSR, the litigation claim handlers for the NHS, reported a 7% rise on the previous year. Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patient’s Association said ‘This reflects the crisis conditions that patients are now suffering in A&E all year round, not just in winter. These arise directly from the long-term under funding of the NHS and failures in workforce planning.’

Graystons Solicitors recognises this problem. Sadly the rise in negligence claims is very worrying as patients are suffering unnecessary harm which can have life changing consequences. Often the claims can  relate to vulnerable patients as opportunities to treat the patients are missed. We welcome a review of the problem of A&E claims announced by the NHSR as we believe the safety of patients should be paramount.