NHS blunders and the pursuit of justice
The appalling scale of neglect and lack of care at Stafford Hospital was truly exceptional, but nobody should kid themselves that the same thing is not happening in other hospitals all around the country. And whilst fewer victims are affected, the consequences for them are equally as distressing as for the Stafford victims.
As a specialist in medical negligence, my filing cabinets are full of files for the victims and families of patients at local hospitals and a common theme in so many of them is not a one-off serious medical blunder but a series of blunders leading to terrible consequences. Beds are not available, patients are forgotten about, staff coming on shift are poorly briefed by staff going off shift, relatives are not informed of a patient’s deteriorating condition (the doctors and nursing staff often are not aware either), patients are left to die alone, operating theatres are not available, junior doctors are out of their depth, and so the list goes on.
Quite often things go wrong over a weekend or during holiday periods where staffing is reduced and, particularly, senior doctors are not working. Worryingly there is no responsibility on the medical staff to tell patients and relatives where something has gone wrong and the NHS makes redress hard to achieve.
It is an old saying but a true one – that doctors bury their mistakes, but these days the whole NHS is at it. Justice is available though with specialist help and anyone who is concerned that something has gone wrong should talk to a specialist in medical negligence work as soon as possible; there are time limits within which redress must be sought otherwise even the worst of cases will be barred from justice, delaying things is not an option.
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