Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Cut NHS compensation payments for clinical negligence by encouraging the delivery of an early apology

There is no doubt that those working in the NHS are committed to their work and we have some of the most skilled and hard working doctors and nurses in the world. 

However as in most sectors even the most trained and skilled employee can make mistakes/omissions particularly under pressure.  Not all mistakes or failures lead to unnecessary death or injury.   Sometimes we may not even beware that an oversight, mistake or omission has occurred.

On those occasions when something does go wrong however we often left feeling aggrieved and lost.    In the main there is very little information given about the situation, we are often left for months not knowing what has happened and who was to blame.    Unfortunately not all doctors and nurses are versed in the skills of PR and general communication.  In fact, another of complaints and claims for compensation would never appear if communication with a patient was given the priority it deserves.

When something goes wrong the first thing we need to know that a problem has occurred, the consequences of that problem, and what the hospital or GP intends to do next.  On top of this, and perhaps as equally important, if not more, is the communication of an early apology.

The number of clients we see who say they would never have dreamt of consulting with us if the Hospital or GP had held up their arms admitted they had made a mistake and apologized.  In all walks of life an apology can go a long way.

Will the situation improve? Sadly no as with the austerity measures there is unlikely to more money pumped into the NHS and therefore the level of communication is likely to decrease rather than improve.

So the next time you hear about the money lawyers are taking out of the NHS with compensation payments and fees, please remember this article and make it known to you local MP that there would be less compensation payouts if more money was invested in the improvement of doctor/administrator/client communication.

Sara Westwood and David Jones are members of MJP Clinical Negligence Team and between them have over 30 years of experience in the sensitive and professional handling of compensation claims arising out of Hospital and GP mishaps.  They can be contacted on 01603877000 or by e-mail at

David Pett who is a partner with Morgan Jones and Pett wrote this Blog Entry.  His role involves the supervision of the firm’s Residential Conveyancing Team.  He also runs the Business Development and IT Team. He can be contacted at

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