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.
Should I sue the NHS?
Understandably the public value the NHS and are very proud of it. At Graystons we share the affection for the NHS however recognise that sometimes mistakes do happen and things can go wrong. Compensation will only be awarded in clinical negligence cases if some damage has been caused by the medical error, however often our clients tell us that they really want to get to the bottom of what has happened as money cannot fully compensate them for their experience.
The NHS has a duty of candour which means that every healthcare professional must be open and honest with patients when something that goes wrong with their treatment and must apologise for the error and any consequence resulting from the error. Our clients often feel the opposite is the case and come to us for the answers and investigations they are seeking as the duty of candour has not been followed.
Graytons believes that by thoroughly investigating a client’s concerns by instructing independent medical experts to look at the issues in their case we can help them understand what has happened. The investigations should hopefully inform the NHS and serve as a red flag for the NHS to help prevent the same or similar errors for another patient. Patient safety is at the heart of what we do as clinical negligence solicitors and resonates with our clients who reiterate that they would not want someone else to have the same experience of medical negligence with lasting, devasting effects as a consequence.