Patient safety put at risk by "toxic" behaviour of Doctors in NHS

John Bennett
John Bennett

Published: December 4th, 2023

7 min read

The Times Newspaper recently reported "Patient safety is being put at risk by the "toxic" behaviour of doctors in the NHS, the health ombudsman has said".

It goes on to report that he was "shocked on a daily basis" by what he saw as ombudsman. Too often, "organisational reputation has been put above patient safety",

Here at Forbes Solicitors, we have conducted many claims over the years where the NHS have let patients down. All too often we are contacted when the outcome of treatment turns out worse than expected. Had the NHS had time to explain the risks they may never have felt the need to contact us. The NHS is under enormous pressure and many doctors simply don't have the time they would like to spend with their patients. Unfortunately, this can lead to further problems. Unhappy patients are driven into making a complaint, some will want to claim if they have been harmed. All of this takes up ever more time to investigate and respond. Surely it would be better to get it right in the first place?

One way of saving on costs is to be open and honest when things go wrong. Patients are often happy to accept the apology and move on, accepting things can sometime go wrong. Offering to help with their ongoing problems and support can be a great help. Unfortunately, we come across circumstances where there has been no explanation of what has gone wrong. Patients are discharged and left to fend for themselves. This often drives them to look at alternatives, including instructing lawyers to investigate whether there is a claim.

According to the Times article There are about 11,000 avoidable deaths every year in the NHS due to patient safety failings, with thousands more patients seriously harmed. Asked whether one of the problems was a "consultant is king" attitude in the NHS, he said there was "an element of that, absolutely".

Behrens said there was a deep-seated lack of empathy in the medical profession. "Talking to some doctors, the way in which they were trained at medical school ten or fifteen years ago emphasised the importance of being self-contained and confident in their judgment about what happens and I think that's an element which is still there," Behrens said. "What should be a collegiate, trusting environment is nothing of the kind."

The NHS duty of Candour has gone some way to address this. Everyone wants a better and safer NHS. The best policy is to be open and supportive. In the long run it will save costs, time, and effort. We learn from our mistakes and when things go wrong, we should do our best to put them right.

If you, a friend or loved one, have been unfortunate enough to suffer an injury as a result of a medical mistake, it may be worth writing to the organisation setting out your concerns. They should acknowledge your letter within a few weeks and provide you with a full written response within a few months. They may call you in to discuss it face to face. Either way we recommend you ask for a response in writing.

If you feel you have been let down or need some help with recovering any losses arising from a medical mistake, please contact one of the team for some no-win, no fee, no obligation advice on the details below.

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