One of the health reforms the government intends to make is to require hospitals to inform patients when mistakes have been made.
Although Action Against Medical Accidents has been campaigning for this for a long time, the plan falls short of what is required.
The majority of patients would be shocked to discover that there is no requirement for hospitals to tell them if things have gone wrong. Hospitals are not sanctioned if they fail to disclose mistakes, and considering that medical negligence can lead to death, this is particularly shocking.
Medicine is very complex and sometimes patients leave an appointment confused. If their doctor makes a wrong diagnosis, or treatment does not work effectively, they may not know that an error has been made and a medical negligence solicitor may be able to secure personal injury compensation for them.
When a patient does make a complaint, administrators rather than doctors usually handle the response. Personal injury solicitors will have experience of responses that are not truthful; some attempt to cover up the error by creating a smokescreen of detail whilst other responses are deliberately misleading.
Medical negligence solicitors often hear from patients who were not told that a serious error occurred during their care. In fact less than 25% of NHS Trusts inform patients of safety incidents as a matter of routine and 6% never tell their patients.
The National Patient Safety Agency claims that up to one million safety incidents occur every year in England and 50% of them will cause harm. Despite this, only 6,000 medical negligence claims were reported last year.
Although the government wants hospitals to own up to their mistakes, it is withdrawing legal aid for clinical negligence claimants. What is worse; not knowing a mistake has been made or knowing there was negligence and being able to do nothing about it?