The UK government recently committed itself to introducing a legal duty on providers of healthcare to be honest with both patients and their relatives when medical negligence occurs.
This follows a long-running campaign by personal injury solicitors and families who have lost relatives due to clinical negligence. One such family, the Powells from Wales, lost their 10 year old son Robbie in 1990 after doctors failed to diagnose a treatable condition.
Under the new duty, providers must be open and transparent when it comes to admitting mistakes. Despite Robbie’s case being the inspiration for this new contractual requirement, it will not be binding in Wales because the Welsh government has responsibility for issues relating to health.
The Powell family, and their medical negligence solicitors, have been battling to learn the truth about their son’s death for nearly 21 years.
Although an inquest determined that medical negligence did play a part in the death of their son, and the CPS said there was enough evidence to charge two of the doctors who treated him, no prosecution has been forthcoming.
The Welsh government has set up a non-statutory inquiry into Robbie’s death, but will not publish its conclusions until next year. In the meantime, the Powells continue to live in the nightmare of not knowing why their son died.