Medical and Social Care services are being urged to come clean and be more open and upfront when it comes to medical blunders.
Last year was a terrible year for medical services as the number of complaints and claims brought against services such as the NHS reached a record high and in the face of the Scottish Government’s consultation on imposing a ‘duty of candour’ for healthcare providers, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers have suggested that the increasing number of claims could be prevented should there be more transparency.
The Scottish representative for APIL, Gordon Dalyell said: “Most people who are injured as a result of medical error want nothing more than an explanation of what went wrong and why, and to know that lessons have been learned.”
“People should understand that saying ‘sorry’ or admitting what went wrong, is not an admission of liability for a legal claims. This is about giving the patients the right to know what has happened to them, so that they might be able to move on.”
“Telling patients about every slight incident, even if there was no harm, may cause patients to lose confidence in hospital and care staff. But while the duty should not be overbearing, near misses should still be taken seriously. We need balance.”
The Scottish Government’s consultation over a duty of candour should be imposed is set to close on the 14th January and APIL have suggested within their response that the responsibility should lie with the individual involved, rather than the employer.
Mr Dalyell stated: “Individual duty would be much simpler and less bureaucratic, and therefore more likely to be complied with.”
But this certainly shouldn’t be something that is exclusive to only Scotland, especially considering the issues with the NHS in particular south of the border in England and Wales.
With the number of clinical negligence claims increasing, surely the time is right for the Government to act and once again take the lead from Scotland.
One of the chief reasons that anyone will claim about medical negligence is because they feel their trust has been let down.
Yet if there was a more honest and open approach from the NHS when it comes to error within medical procedures then the number of complaints and claims for compensation would surely decrease.
The NHS in particular also needs to look at the openness of their complaints procedure in general. Independent research showed that more and more people are finding it difficult to complain about the NHS, to the point they are forced to give up.
This maybe precisely what the higher ups with the NHS want but it serves only to disguise the growing concern for the quality of service people are receiving.
Scott Rees and Co Partner, David Byrne, supported APIL’s stance saying: “It is clear from the rising number of complaints and claims made against our health services last year that something needs to change.”
“It is easy for governing bodies, as is the case with the NHS for example, to blame personal injury lawyers for bringing on the increase but the real problem here is that patients are being let down by the people who are supposed to be caring for them and in many cases then being left to suffer in silence.”
“Most victims of medical error just want answers as to why they are injured and I genuinely believe that if the medical professional who had the duty of care to the patient was honest and explained how and why the error occurred and how the patient can either deal with the additional discomfort or be treated, then we would see a reduction in claims being made.”
“As thing stand, often the only way that patients are able to get answers is to do so through the courts, especially as the complaints services are made to be so difficult, so I would say the likeliness is that the number of claims being medical negligence is not likely to decrease any time soon without some form of intervention.”