Clinical Negligence claims - what's the true motivation?

Monday 17th December 2018

Recent research has shown that a driving force in people taking legal action against the NHS is a lack of a proper explanation and an apology from the NHS when something goes wrong. The research, carried out by NHS Resolution (NHSR), flies in the face of recent media reports surrounding this issue. The NHSR is the body that handles claims for clinical negligence on behalf of the NHS in England.

Almost two-thirds of those surveyed said that they did not receive any explanation of what had gone wrong, or why. A lot of our clients often say that they have not been told what happened, and why mistakes were made. Legal action is started in an effort to find out what happened and potentially hold those responsible to account for any failings.

Only a third of people received an apology, and only a fraction of those thought that they received an adequate apology. Sadly, I’ve lost count of the number of apology letters I’ve seen which merely apologise for how someone feels. Claimants don’t want apologies for how they feel; Claimants want apologies for something having gone wrong.

Tellingly, only 6% of people had enough faith to believe that the same thing wouldn’t happen again to someone else. It’s common for us to hear from people who accept that something has happened to them, but dread the thought of the same thing happening to someone else.

I personally have found that recovering compensation is fairly low on the list of priorities for Claimants. It can of course be helpful to put things right financially, but a more honest and holistic response from the NHS when wrong doing occurs would surely see a drop in legal action being taken. We will wait to see if the NHSR takes its own findings on board.

Joseph Norton, Head of Compensation

Waldrons Solicitors