25 October, 2022
A recent report highlights the continuing and shocking problems at some NHS trusts. The inquiry into East Kent Hospital University Trust reviewed more than 200 cases over a decade of maternity failings and found a "pattern of recurring harm". The damning report revealed that almost half of the cases could have had a different outcome for the mother and baby. Almost a quarter of baby deaths could have been avoided, 12 babies may not have suffered bain damage and 23 mothers may not have died or been injured.
It is encouraging to hear that the trust have finally accepted there were a number of failings. The NHS are getting better at admitting when things do go wrong and are increasingly adopting a duty of candour. (Duty of candour sets out specific requirements providers of care must adhere to when things do go wrong. This includes telling patients what went wrong, providing support and an apology when mistakes have been made.)
The families in Kent have spent many years trying to get to the bottom of what went wrong. Finally they have justice.
Here at Forbes Solicitors, we have conducted many claims over the years where the NHS have denied liability only to go on and admit it in the face of court proceedings. Even when fault is admitted, lengthy and costly arguments can develop about extent of the damage, harm, and loss that the poor treatment has caused.
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 that things can sometimes 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 clinical negligence claim.
The NHS duty of Candour has gone some way to address this. However the Government are proposing to introduce a new Health and Care Bill, which may undermine some of the openness and prohibit disclosure of certain information following an NHS safety investigation.
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 medical negligence, 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 a few months later. 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 a member of our clinical negligence team for some no-win, no fee, no obligation advice.
For more information contact John Bennett in our Clinical Negligence department via email or phone on 01254 872111. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.
Learn more about our Clinical Negligence department here