Medical Negligence Claims Are On The Rise
The past year has seen a 20 per cent rise in medical negligence claims that are being brought against the NHS. Staggeringly, the number of claims has increased by 80 per cent since 2008. With many hospitals in the news for negative reasons lately it is quite alarming that claims are rising so dramatically.
The NHS budget, already under strain, is at risk of facing a bill of nearly £19 billion in claims if cases continue to rise. This is quite a large chunk out of its budget; nearly one fifth of the total in fact.
Claims as a last resort
In the past year just over 16,000 patients, representatives or bereaved relatives brought claims against the NHS. According to experts in the field, the number of people making claims is increasing due to a number of factors. Explanations include the fact that people are no longer just accepting substandard care and that some patients feel duty bound to challenge a hospital legally if an apology or admission of liability is not forthcoming.
It is probably safe to assume that the rise in medical negligence claims is based on predominantly genuine claims. There may be a percentage of claims that are spurious, but these are definitely in the minority. Most cases are genuine and legal action is usually only taken as a last resort by claimants.
Obviously if a patient is badly injured or made seriously ill by an unacceptable clinical error that could have and should have been avoided, then the issue of compensation may be a formality. In a lot of cases, however, patients expect good-quality care and proper explanations from doctors when things do not go according to plan. When hospital staff fail to respect the wishes and needs of patients, things can get very frustrating and potentially hostile. Most people do not want to end up in court after a hospital visit and it’s a huge shame if things end up in this way.
Low care standards
With poor levels of hospital care being exposed across the UK, patients are becoming more aware of what is classed as quality or unacceptable care. They have every right to expect a decent standard of care and when things start to go wrong because staff are not adhering to procedure and neglecting patients, then this is where anger and frustration set in. There are new systems being implemented across the country to make surgeons more accountable by having crucial results information made public and cameras are being installed to monitor nursing care. This may seem quite extreme, but if it means that medical staff are made more accountable then it can only be good for patients.
Claims on the increase for now
Between 2011 and 2012, a total of £35 million was paid out to just five law firms following claims against the NHS. If asked, most lawyers would probably predict a huge escalation in claims in the near future, especially coming on the back of the public inquiry’s report into Mid Staffordshire Hospital’s medical failings.
If you are interested in seeking legal advice, Evolution Legal’s solicitors are experienced with medical negligence claims and can provide you with expert guidance.