NHS Resolution says it has 4 objectives:
- Resolve concerns and disputes fairly and effectively
- Provide analysis and expert knowledge to the healthcare and civil justice systems to drive improvement
- Deliver interventions and solutions that improve safety and save money
- To deliver “best value”, developing people, relationships and infrastructure
It says that the rising costs of clinical negligence claims “are a significant concern to the NHS and are unsustainable”
As clinical negligence lawyers, we agree to an extent. But, from where we stand, the focus is all wrong.
The NHS or those acting for the NHS could save the NHS a lot of money, if they take the following steps: –
- Reduce incidences of negligence, through a change of culture (Black Box Thinking) Keep costs down by making early admissions and interim payments to enable rapid rehabilitation and life adjustments
- Don’t use “hired gun “ experts who give the same opinion in every case of the same nature no matter what the circumstances
- Talk to us! Tell us what your defence is. Enter into realistic settlement talks and/or mediations as soon as feasibly possible once evidence is gathered
- If we really have genuine factual and legal issues on which we differ, then let’s get the matter to trial as soon as we can so a judge can decide.
Of course it is recognised that although there may be tragic consequences, not all adverse incidents are someone’s fault.
Rachel Siganporia, writing in the Association of Personal Injury Lawyer’s journal “PI Focus” in April 2019 says:
“Healthcare professionals do not wake up in the morning and think “I am going to deliberately harm someone today”
This is true unless you are unfortunate enough to come up against a Harold Shipman type health professional. Generally speaking, they are dedicated women and men who want to do the best they can for those in their care. They are only human and can be devastated by the consequences of mistakes.
Rachel also comments:
“There is rarely just one mistake made that results in injury; rather a constellation of events that culminate to cause the catastrophe…..untackled systemic and management failures are usually the real root cause of harm occurring………”
It is true that as lawyers, we are seeing more claims which are multi-factorial caused by such as delay, lack of communication, failures of monitoring and “missing links” in the chain towards diagnosis and treatment.
The NHS deserves our support. It is an amazing organisation and you may only realise this when you need it. Thinking where we would be without it is almost impossible.
But it is not without its failings that desperately need addressing. From a lawyer’s point of view, this may require a substantial shift in the culture and thinking behind how the NHS learns from its mistakes and deals with claims and potential claims.
Will this initiative be the catalyst for such a change? We hope so.