A 15 per cent rise in medical negligence deaths to more than 300 a month is “shocking,” say solicitors at Coles Miller.
Some 1,834 patients died due to alleged medical negligence in England and Wales in the six months to March 2013, compared with 1,593 in the previous period.
Coles Miller medical solicitors say the newly published data from NHS England echoes what they are seeing at hospitals around the UK.
The NHS England report - collated from data sent voluntarily by hospital trusts - shows that 683,883 patients in England and Wales either suffered harm due to medical negligence or were put at risk. That is a 6.4 per cent rise on the previous period.
Coles Miller Partner David Simpson, a medical negligence solicitor in Poole, Dorset, said: “These figures are of serious concern, they represent real human lives.
“The figures confirm what we have been hearing from our clients and from nurses as well. Hospitals are overstretched and mistakes are being made.
“We hope that the government changes will have some impact but it is going to take time. In the meantime, thousands of patients may die and their families will be devastated,” he added.
Coles Miller helps a wide range of clients to claim compensation for medical negligence.
Most of the claims relate to doctors in hospitals but “a sizeable number” are due to alleged errors by GPs.
Coles Miller blames the quality of training for healthcare workers for a number of clinical errors.
NHS training had not kept pace with the growing demands facing the frontline staff, warned the lawyers.
Mr Simpson said: “One consultant told me that the training is not as good as it used to be. It’s less ‘hands on’. They are not getting the practice that they used to receive.”
Coles Miller has welcomed the announcement by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt that hospitals must investigate all claims for clinical negligence.
The new guidance from the government follows allegations that some trusts have failed to investigate complaints properly amid fears that it would expose them to legal action.
In theory this practice was banned in 2009 but health campaigners say some hospitals have used loopholes to dissuade people from making a complaint against the NHS.
Mr Simpson said: “There is the danger that - by failing to address complaints - the hospitals could miss some operational errors which would then go unreported.”
Medical negligence claims taken on by the solicitors at Coles Miller include allegations of misdiagnosis, delays in diagnosis, failure to obtain patient consent correctly.
Other cases include surgical errors (some involving cosmetic surgery), mismanaged labour, faulty medical devices, burns (some caused by hospital lasers) and injuries to nerves.
Dorset solicitors Coles Miller have five offices in Poole, Bournemouth, Charminster, Broadstone and Wimborne.
Their specialist teams of solicitors handle medical negligence and personal injury work from all over the UK as well as a wide range of private client and commercial cases in Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset.
For more information about clinical negligence, please contact Coles Miller Solicitors Partner David Simpson, 01202 338889.