The Telegraph reported this week that claims for compensation made against NHS hospitals have risen by over a third, with hospitals over the whole of the United Kingdom being called upon by the courts to pay out a massive £863million in settlements in the last year. This represents an enormous increase in a single year, with an extra £76million claimed in medical negligence compensation in 2010 as compared with figures from 2009. The expenditure includes money delivered to claimants, including both patients and staff, and the fees of the dedicated medical negligence solicitor in every one of almost 6,000 cases.
“Patients have the right to expect a high standard of care”
This information comes after NHS North East revealed that 2010 was also their most expensive year to date in terms of medical negligence claims, with £22million awarded to claimants in the North East region alone. When claims of this type are made against hospital staff it is often in cases of hospital errors, whether surgical or administrative, cases of neglect or mismanagement, misdiagnosis and emotional distress caused by the behaviour of medical staff. A spokesperson for NHS North East condemned those who suggested such claims might be fraudulent or cynical, stating that when hospitals fail to provide patients with a high standard of care, patients should feel and are entitled to medical negligence compensation.
One such claim was made by 43-year old Christina Malcolm, a Durham City resident, who will require lifelong care after hospital staff failed to spot that she was suffering a haemorrhage. With such severe injuries she will probably never return to work. She therefore made a medical negligence claim to cover expensive home care. Her claim also represented the money she might have earned had she been able to return to work.
Things can only get better
The industry has reported a significant increase in doctors' union fees, which has come about as a result of ever more expensive claims being made when doctors do make mistakes. These statistics have emerged at a time when MPs are already pushing for greater transparency regarding the results attained by hospitals and GPs surgeries. It is hoped that both the proposed more rigorous checks and the rising expense of negligent practises will mean a higher standard of care offered throughout the NHS and the private sector. In an ideal world the answer to this ongoing problem is to reduce the number of incidences of medical negligence through better training and a higher quality of care. But in the meantime patients have the added security of a system that will compensate them if they are injured through the negligence of medical staff.
Our team of specialist are also able to assist you with any professional negligence claims and are also qualified to deal with child abuse issues in the best way possible.