David Simpson Partner Coles Miller

New NHS Investigations Unit Is Urgently Needed30th Mar 2015

by David Simpson on 30th Mar 2015

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MPs have called for a new authority to help investigate medical accidents and help stop future tragedies.

We agree – such a pro-active step is long overdue.David Simpson Partner Coles Miller

Coles Miller clinical negligence solicitors see the NHS (and other healthcare providers) making the same mistakes over and over again – killing patients, wrecking lives, destroying families.

We would encourage NHS healthcare professionals to learn from their mistakes and do everything reasonably possible to stop them from ever happening again.

The aforementioned MPs (the Commons Public Administration select committee) say the NHS’s current system of investigating errors takes too long and is too complicated.

Again we agree. NHS clinical errors are killing patients at the rate of 12,000 per year.

And what of those victims who survive, those whose lives are blighted because of mistakes by clinicians? Our solicitors see cases like this every day. Read here how we can help.

MPs have suggested a system that finds out what went wrong – without apportioning blame – so errors can be identified as early as possible to prevent repetition.

Fine in principle. We would dearly love to see a centralised investigations unit capable of spotting patterns across the UK – supported by local teams in every hospital.

But do MPs really think the NHS is going to change its defensive culture overnight?

We doubt it – not unless whistleblowers can be sure the new investigations unit has sufficient powers to protect them from NHS bullying.

Only last month the annual survey of a quarter of a million NHS staff revealed that bullying was on the rise and that 70 per cent of doctors and nurses doubted it was safe to raise concerns.

Until that problem is solved, any new NHS investigations unit will lack the ammunition it needs.

And as for the matter of blame, the reality is that it cannot ever be fully removed from the process.

Doctors and other healthcare professionals who make mistakes must be prevented from repeating them. There will inevitably be blame.

Victims who suffer injuries must be compensated to pay for treatment to put them mistakes right and long-term care to help them cope.

Again, there will be blame for those who put them in that position and cost the NHS billions of pounds in compensation.

Faced with this blame, the NHS is not known for encouraging whistleblowing. So the brave few who do so must be supported.

And patients must be ever more vigilant. You may love the NHS (or the idea of the NHS) – but do you trust it to treat you properly when its staff are so overworked and under-resourced?

Has the NHS failed you? Concerned about how a loved one is being treated by the NHS? Get expert help – contact the head of Coles Miller’s Clinical Negligence Department, Partner David Simpson, 01202 355695.

This document is not intended to constitute and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice on any specific matter. No liability for the accuracy of the content of this document, or the consequences of relying on it, is assumed by the author. If you seek further information, please contact Managing Partner Neil Andrews at Coles Miller Solicitors LLP.