Would saying sorry save the NHS millions?

It has been suggested that the NHS could save millions of pounds if it simply apologised for making mistakes.

NHS Trusts are being crippled by massive medical negligence compensation claims at a time when the government is cutting back on spending.

Last year, there were more than 8,500 clinical negligence claims filed against the NHS; up 30% on the previous year, according to the NHS Litigation Authority.

No win no fee lawyers charge more than normal solicitors do and they actually eat up around a third of the compensation bill. A lot of NHS Trusts are so concerned about legal costs that they accept liability and agree an out of court settlement.

Of course patients are entitled to compensation when something goes drastically wrong, but some personal injury solicitors actively encourage people to claim for even the tiniest problem.

One of the problems could be that the NHS is reluctant to admit that something has gone wrong. Patients sometimes feel angered at the treatment they have received, but this is not acknowledged by hospital staff. Even after they write and complain to the hospital executives they are fobbed off and this gets them even more frustrated. And so the situation plays on their mind until they feel they have no option but to turn to the courts.

Would they have resorted to such drastic measures if their concerns had been addressed at the outset? In many cases, the answer is probably no.

Yes, we have to address the compensation culture in the UK, but we should also look to changing the attitudes of those causing it.

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