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Published On: November 6, 2018 | Blog | 0 comments

NHS research confirms what claimant lawyers already know….

Recently the NHS determined to have a look at why people take legal action. It is a  late (some would say very late) but welcome addition to the debate and demonstrates the inaccuracy of the greedy claimant seeking easy compensation encouraged by elements of the media.

In essence much of the research confirms what clinical negligence solicitors have said for many years.

Almost two thirds (63%) of respondents felt that no explanation of why an incident occurred was given to them.

The majority of those questioned (approximately 800 so a small sample compared to the size of the NHS ) felt that they received no explanation for adverse events and of these who did it often took ten days or more for it to come.

Likewise the majority felt that there had been no investigations initially and only about half of those where there was an investigation were invited to a meeting to discuss the findings which seems quite  bizarre.

Only a very small minority (6%) had confidence that the actions taken post incident would prevent a similar event occurring again which reflects a limited confidence in change.

Many people clearly did not know how to make a complaint and of those that did the response was considered “poor or very poor” in accuracy, speed, detail and empathy.

Lastly less than a third felt that they had actually received an apology and only a minority of those rated the apology highly.

The NHS make the point that the majority who responded were dealing with incidents before the duty of candour  came into force.  For those of us dealing with  claimants however, it can seem that on occasions the problems raised by this research still exist.

Recently I dealt with a client who went in to hospital for a procedure about his right leg.  He was understandably concerned when doctors on the ward round started to talk about the left (wrong) limb. Ultimately he has had his left leg amputated.  No one from the NHS has explained how it happened, why it happened.  These are recent events.

I still see responses to complaints that make no sense, have no detail and often are poorly expressed.  This adds to the distress of the patient and the anger of the family . It gives the impression that those who drafted the response don’t actually care much about the contents. In addition whether lessons are learned or not, the phrase is nothing more than a cliché these days.

Whatever the motivation for it however, NHS Resolution has to be applauded for starting to look properly at the problem of how people are treated in the NHS and importantly how they are treated after they report or suffer and adverse event. It cannot however consider that the introduction of the duty of candour has made a difference. Nor, it appears can the rest of the medical profession. We need not just research but a genuine movement to change the ethos in some areas of healthcare . We also need a real sea change in how people who feel they have not been treated properly are then treated.

I hope the NHS uses this research well and not consider the matter has been resolved by the introduction of the duty of candour. This is a start, but from our experience of dealing with many sufferers of clinical negligence there is a very long way to go.



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