Start your claim

February 24th 2020

Medical Negligence

Failure to send thousands of patients’ summary letters to GPs from Barnet and Chase Farm Hospital appointments could lead to serious harm

Vince Shore

Vince Shore

Joint Head of Clinical Negligence, Hull

Failure to send thousands of patients’ summary letters to GPs from Barnet and Chase Farm Hospital appointments could lead to serious harm

It is certainly worrying to have read about a NHS patient safety inquiry being launched as more than 28,000 pieces of medical correspondence, which were meant for GPs, were not sent following hospital outpatient appointments in London.

It is certainly worrying to have read about a NHS patient safety inquiry being launched as more than 28,000 pieces of medical correspondence, which were meant for GPs, were not sent following hospital outpatient appointments in London.

It has been reported in the media that a private contractor failed to send on the 28,563 summary letters – relating to 22,144 patients – detailing discussions at outpatient appointments between June last year and last month.

The letters, which relate to patients in the London boroughs of Camden, Islington, Haringey, Barnet and Enfield, should have been sent by doctors at Barnet and Chase Farm hospitals in north London to GPs after consultations.

However, due to the error of a private IT company, that didn’t happen.

Now, after the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust reported the mistake to NHS England and NHS Improvement, which reviews patient safety, ‘a clinical harm review’ has quite rightly been launched.

It is no exaggeration to say this could have serious consequences for many patients.

Often, as a result of outpatient appointments, vital recommendations are made over things such as medication changes being required.

Perhaps more significantly, GPs are often advised to take further action, such as commissioning further investigations or referring the patient to another specialist consultant to get to the bottom of worrying conditions.

These letters can also often be crucial in ensuring that GPs make their patients aware of any common side-effects and what they should do if symptoms of a condition reoccur, and any possible follow-up arrangements that may be required.

As a result of this error, all of these vital patient services may have been missed, and with that in mind it would not be surprising to learn of some patients suffering serious harm to their health, which could and should have been avoided.

Situation will be worrying for patients who deserve answers and support

In our work at Hudgell Solicitors we sadly see many cases where patients suffer from life-changing illnesses because of poor communications within the health service.

It simply means they don’t receive the care and treatment they need, when they need it.

We’ve seen patients not recalled for further tests when doctors and consultants have said they were needed, and supported people faced with the knowledge that illnesses such as cancer have spread and developed to stages where they are not treatable, all because completely avoidable delays prevented them from having the treatment they required.

I am sure there will be serious questions asked of the private company involved in this case, not only in terms of how this error was allowed to happen, but how on earth it went undetected for six months.

We know all too well that a six month delay in treatment can have a huge impact on future quality of life.
It will be a worrying time for many patients of these hospitals and it is to be hoped that they now get the answers and support they need and deserve.

What Our Clients Say