01482 778 463
Client Focussed
No Win No Fee
Specialist Legal Teams
Hudgell Solicitors™ | Latest News | Why it’s time the NHS started talking to medical negligence lawyers for its own good – as well as that of its patients.

Why it’s time the NHS started talking to medical negligence lawyers for its own good – as well as that of its patients.

By , former Chair of NHS Hull and now chair of Neil Hudgell Solicitors, personal injury and medical negligence specialists.

Dealing with the aftermath of what are termed “serious untoward incidents” – the wrong leg amputated, swabs left in patients during operations, tragic mistakes during childbirth – was thankfully a rare but nonetheless disturbing part of my role as Chair of NHS Hull for many years.  We were always informed about what was being done to right the wrong: staffing changes or training, compensation being paid to patients.  It was vital information needed to inform strategic decision making.

However, with hindsight I realise that we were not being given the whole picture.  What never happened was real learning from these awful, catastrophic mistakes from all those involved in the process.  We heard about the health service response but we never heard from the so-called “adversaries” – the medical negligence lawyers acting for the patient.  It’s only since leaving the NHS and taking on a new role with Neil Hudgell Solicitors that I can see that the NHS is missing a great opportunity to learn and to improve.  Accepting that medical negligence lawyers have an essential role and drawing on their expertise could help the NHS to prevent the same mistakes happening again.  What’s more, engaging with medical negligence lawyers could also save this great organisation, cherished by the British people, a lot of money.

A recent National Audit Office report highlighted once more the amount the NHS has to spend settling medical negligence claims: mistakes in maternity care account for nearly a third of the £1 billion spent each year.  Yet, when this type of report is published, there can be a tendency to focus on the headline grabbing figures and forget the individual victims, the people to whom bad things have happened and who deserve professional representation.  As a former Trade Union official, I know that it’s accepted that if an employee is badly treated at work he or she has a right to legal representation if needed to resolve the issue.  Equally, in domestic and matrimonial cases, it’s normal for all parties to engage a lawyer if required to work out a settlement.  Yet there is a perception of medical negligence lawyers as somehow bad and predatory and that people who make claims against the NHS are greedy or undeserving of support.

However in my experience medical negligence claims are not frivolous.  They are lodged only following considerable research and with good evidence to back up the case being made.  The NHS is by and large a wonderful organisation but it does make mistakes and, when these happen, patients have a right to professional representation.  Compensation claims are made not to punish the NHS or its employees but to help its victims to live with the consequences of the blunders they’ve suffered: the need for extra support or care, adaptations to the claimant’s home, loss of earnings, chronic pain that demands physiotherapy or other treatment, psychiatric conditions needing on-going counselling and assistance.

However, from my experience within the NHS, when a claim is made the organisation’s typical response is defensive: to deny, defend and fight the case.  As well creating stress and prolonged uncertainty for a patient who is already suffering, this approach also costs legal time and therefore money.

As an example, Simon Wilson, joint head of negligence at Neil Hudgell Solicitors, highlights the current situation when bile duct injuries are caused during gallbladder surgery.

Simon told me: “It is now pretty well established that injury to the bile duct during gallbladder surgery is negligent. Despite this, local Trusts and the NHSLA often stick to the argument that it is a complication that is consented to prior to surgery. Clearly a patient cannot consent to a negligent act. On many occasions this argument leads to the time and expense of additional reports and the need for Court Proceedings to be issued.  However, I am not aware of a single case of this type that has not settled.”

It would be far more pragmatic, cost-efficient and beneficial if the NHS engaged with medical negligence lawyers.  The aim should be to settle cases through arbitration rather than confrontation and the courts.  What’s more, if the NHS was to start a conversation with patients’ lawyers and use this as an opportunity to learn, vital information could be transferred and put to good use within the organisation.

As Simon Wilson also points out lawyers will often see trends in types of claims. They often arise in batches and against the same team of doctors, nurses or surgeons.

He said: “Lawyers are more likely to be aware of this because part of the risk assessment of cases means that we look back at successful outcomes when deciding whether to proceed. This information could be shared at an early stage ensuring that those teams receive appropriate training. Similarly, if there are certain case types which are usually successful, this information could help the NHS in deciding on which claims to make admissions of liability and which should be properly defended.”

Of course, a change like this to engage positively with medical negligence lawyers would mean a massive shift in culture within the NHS.  But, it’s become clear from the Francis Review into the Healthcare failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Hospital that a huge change in approach is needed.  In short, if the NHS does something wrong it has to say so, apologise and sort it out. What’s more, surely it has a duty to draw on all expertise available to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

No Comments

Leave a Reply

*Required

The Author

Request a callback

Request A Callback

I am an existing client.










Or call us FREE on:

01482 778 463


trust pilottrustpilot startrustpilot startrustpilot startrustpilot startrustpilot star

The data you submit will only be used by Hudgell Solicitors and only for the purpose of dealing with your enquiry.
See full privacy policy.

Looking to see if you're eligible?

Get in touch for free legal advice

0808 159 7699

Call today to speak to an expert

OR
Start your claim

What Our Clients Think

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Caroline was great in handling my case

"Caroline was great in handling my case, very informative and always kept me up to… "

Mr Richard Brook

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Dispute with EasyJet

"Although Hudgell offices were not local to us, there was no need for concern, as… "

Glyn

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Always on the ball

"Always on the ball! Great at what they do, very professional and fast with a… "

CHRISTOPHER CURTIS

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Excellent service

"Excellent service. Very happy with result. Thank you."

Miss Erika Panakova

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Was an easy process and the caseworker…

"Was an easy process and the caseworker was very informative and very knowledgeable on my… "

Rachel Fee

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Lovely business to deal with

"Lovely business to deal with. Would recommend to anyone."

Mrs Kelly Byrnes

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Great communication

"Great communication! My solicitor was lovely to deal with, open and listened to me."

Sue Ockendon

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Very happy with how they managed my…

"Very happy with how they managed my claim. I would recommend them."

Mr Steve Roberts

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Very helpful and truly understanding in…

"Very helpful and truly understanding in a very sensitive case would highly recommend to anyone"

Miss Sarah Morris

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Friendly

"Friendly, supportive and professional, couldn't ask for more."

Mr Adrian Fisher

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

A first class service with a heart too

"I never had claimed before and was quite apprehensive about dealing with claims solicitors as… "

M Sheikh

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

They made me feel that I wouldn’t be on…

"They made me feel that I wouldn’t be on my own after my experience. They… "

Mrs Melinda Diane Tovey

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

The service was excellent and Lauren…

"The service was excellent and Lauren Cartwright kept me well informed and gave good advice… "

Mr Roger Harrison

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Recommended company

"Excellent service, fully recommended. Efficient communication and reliable."

Mr R Taylor

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Hudgell took over my road traffic case…

"Hudgell took over my road traffic case from a different solicitors and successfully negotiated a… "

Mr JSW

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Hudgell Solicitors made my personal…

"Hudgell Solicitors made my personal injury claim so easy, they got me the treatment i… "

Mr Nick Todd

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

I have never used solicitors before

"I have never used solicitors before, my dealings with Hudgell have been excellent I have… "

David Varley

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Very helpful

"Very helpful"

Ethan Ferguson

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

First Class service

"Hudgell Solicitors are currently working on my case and I must say so far the… "

Emma Jeeves

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Always kept me up to date on all…

"Always kept me up to date on all correspondence concerning the case and acknowledged any… "

Mrs Anne Marie Wells

Rated 9.4 out of 10 based on 454 reviews

Powered by Trustpilot

Our offices

London

55 Fleet Street
EC4Y 1JU

VIEW DETAILS

Hull

No 2 @ The Dock
46 Humber Street
HU1 1TU

VIEW DETAILS

Leeds

10 Park Place
Leeds
LS1 2RU

VIEW DETAILS

© 2018 Hudgell Solicitors®. All Rights Reserved.

Hudgell Solicitors is a trading name of Neil Hudgell Limited | Director Dr. Neil Hudgell MA LLB (Hons) LLD | Registered in England No. 7078429 | Authorised and Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority | SRA No. 521372 | VAT Registration No. 254 7802 90