Patients who have received treatment at some of Britain’s worst performing hospitals are being urged to consider whether they have been the victims of medical negligence.
Solicitors at Coles Miller are acting for a number of clients taking legal action against some of the hospitals highlighted by the NHS Litigation Authority.
Nine of 14 hospitals being investigated for high death rates have collectively cost the NHS £291 million in compensation over the last five years, according to the authority.
But they have paid only £204 million into the insurance scheme that covers the cost - which means that their failures are effectively being paid for by the better performing hospitals.
Last year the NHS’s total bill for compensation and legal fees was £1.3 billion and it is expected to rise by the end of this year.
Coles Miller has described the latest set of compensation figures from the NHS as “shocking”.
Partner David Simpson, who leads the firm’s Clinical Negligence team, said: “We would all rather that the NHS spent the money on caring for people, making them better.
“None of us wants to come along after the horse has bolted and sue for compensation. It would have been better if the NHS had treated the patients properly in the first place.
“Claims must pass a legal test and they will succeed only if they have merit - so the NHS’s increasing compensation bill suggests that more mistakes are being made.
“In my experience, the trusts will always try and defend the claims if they can but most claims are settled without the need to go to court,” he added.
Patients worried by any treatment they have received should watch out for the following warning signs:
- unexplained symptoms, especially intrusive ones that persist
- subsequent consultations which cast doubt on the initial diagnosis and treatment
- delays in the initial diagnosis - “a consultant may later tell you that nothing can be done but could successful treatment have been provided with an earlier diagnosis? Has a ‘window of opportunity’ been missed?”
A number of cases being handled by Coles Miller across England and Wales have resulted in multi-million pound payouts but the firm has won compensation victories for clients with claims of all sizes.
Compensation may be an initial lump sum with subsequent monthly payouts to cover the cost of ongoing care for the patient.
For many victims of serious medical negligence, winning their claim may be only the start of the process. A case manager will help them to manage their ongoing care.
Patients may also need help from Coles Miller’s Wills, Tax and Trusts team to ensure that their compensation payment is invested in the most effective way to help secure their future.
Some patients - particularly those who have suffered head injuries - may undergo personality changes which can impact on their marriage. Coles Miller’s Family Law team can help them.
Solicitors from Coles Miller assist clients from all over the country with medical negligence and personal injury claims. They advise them on how to fund claims, usually by means of ‘no win no fee’.
For more information on claiming for clinical negligence, please contact Coles Miller Solicitors Partner David Simpson, 01202 338889.