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Patients Must Take Action Sooner, Warn Clinical Negligence Solicitors Coles Miller7th Aug 2013

by on 7th Aug 2013


clinical negligence solicitor David SimpsonPatients must be more ready to challenge authority when they witness failure in the NHS, warn Dorset solicitors Coles Miller following the Berwick Report into standards of care.

Hospital patients and their families will have to be more pro-active if care is to be improved, recommends the Berwick report.

Patient safety must be priority one for the NHS, says the 46-page report by Prof Don Berwick, former health adviser to Barack Obama.

The report includes the following recommendations for patients and carers:

  • Alert healthcare staff whenever care is below acceptable standards or unsafe
  • Establish better relationships with healthcare staff; develop mutual respect, honesty and trust
  • Share histories, family situations, needs and hopes. Patients and carers should become “co-producers” of their care
  • Advise healthcare managers on how to improve systems. This could involve patients attending meetings, learning NHS jargon and how the system works.

Coles Miller Partner David Simpson, head of the firm’s clinical negligence team, said the Berwick Report had some “lofty ambitions” but that changes could take years.

In the meantime, patients had to take greater responsibility for their own safety and quality of care while undergoing treatment by the NHS.

“Don’t just blandly accept everything that you are told by the NHS. Find out more information and also keep a diary of what happens to you in hospital,” said Mr Simpson.

“Families need to keep a record of the number of nurses on duty. The issue is if something goes wrong and there are not enough staff to deal with emergencies.

“There must be guaranteed number of nurses and safe levels of staff on duty at any one time,” he added.

The Berwick Report has identified a significant number of issues affecting NHS care and recommends “wide systemic change”.

NHS failures outlined by the Berwick Report include:

  • Patient safety problems - caused by systems, procedures, conditions…“staff are not to blame”
  • Incorrect priorities that do not focus on patients
  • Warning signals that go unheeded, as in the case of Mid Staffordshire
  • “Responsibility is…not clearly owned. With too many in charge, no-one is”.

Prof Berwick says the NHS must “reassert the primacy of working with patients”, stop blaming the staff and trust them more.

Targets should be used with caution. They “should never displace the primary goal of better care.”

Healthcare authorities should “expect and insist on transparency” and “make sure pride and joy in work, not fear, infuse the NHS.”

David Simpson said: “The aims of the Berwick Report are to be applauded but how will they be achieved?

“Implementing the recommendations of the Berwick Report is going to take a huge amount of finance, resources and retraining. My concern is that they may never achieve it,” he added.

Coles Miller’s solicitors in Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset handle claims for clinical negligence from all over the United Kingdom.

They include misdiagnosis, failures during treatment and people being discharged from hospital without being given the correct care.

In June and July, Coles Miller recovered £203,845 in compensation payouts for medical negligence clients.

The firm’s clinical negligence team has seen the number of cases it handles more than double over the last year.

For more details about claiming for alleged clinical negligence, please contact Coles Miller Solicitors Partner David Simpson, 01202 338889.

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.