February 18, 2016

Independent legal system needed to hold the NHS to account

Law firm Withy King has repeated its concerns about the Government’s proposed reforms to the way medical negligence cases are funded after it was revealed that over 1,000 serious mistakes, known as ‘never events’, were made by NHS England over the last four years.

Withy King’s clinical negligence team deals with around 2,500 enquiries each year from patients who have suffered as a result of mistakes made in diagnosing or treating medical or dental problems.

These claims include wrong tooth extractions, a swab or instrument being left inside a patient during surgery and a woman who had breast surgery to eliminate cancer, only to be told afterwards that her results had been mixed up with someone else’s and she never had cancer.

Paul Rumley, partner and medical negligence specialist at Withy King, said: “Every single preventable mistake made by the medical and dental professions should be regarded as a ‘never event’ and the NHS should be held to account. This is the only way to improve the system and make sure lessons are learned.

“Worryingly, the government’s proposed reforms to the way legal cases are funded will deter many patients and their families from seeking justice and will prevent many solicitors from taking on these cases in the first place because it just isn’t financially viable. This is particularly true for low value claims or those which are difficult and require in-depth investigation and expertise to resolve. I would argue strongly that an independent legal system is essential to ensure accountability and standards within the NHS which after all, is paid for by tax-payers, and so they should be able to raise the flag when things go wrong.”

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