Pryers Solicitors

Why is saying sorry so difficult for the NHS?

There is no denying that the NHS is a wonderful organisation. It’s disappointing that their reputation is repeatedly damaged because they struggle to apologise.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has issued its latest report on complaints in the NHS.

The Ombudsman looks at complaints where the patient does not believe that their local service has dealt with it correctly. The most cited reason is not receiving a proper apology.

The report has highlighted cases where the failings of the NHS service are quite serious. These include a woman from West Yorkshire who was exposed to Hepatitis and HIV after a nurse vaccinated her for flu with a used needle.

This case was partly upheld by the Ombudsman because of the poor communication from the Practice and the failing of the Practice Nurse for not realising the syringe was empty, and had been used.

In a letter to the patient they accepted that the incident shouldn’t have happened but didn’t acknowledge that it was the Practice Nurse’s fault.

Other cases include a doctor at Sheffield Children’s Hospital Trust who told the parents of a child with eczema that if they used a herbal remedy instead of prescription drugs, he would consider that to be child abuse, and a North Yorkshire man with schizophrenia who wasn’t correctly advised of the risks to his mental health in prescribing the drug Champix, which is a drug to help stop smoking. He had to spend three months in hospital.

Julie Mellor, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, said: “In many of the complaints we see, the organization complained about has done the right thing to put things right. But too many people aren’t getting the answers to what went wrong from the organization they complained about.”

All the above claims received compensation from their local services, either the GP practice or hospital.

Cases of medical negligence are on the rise according to the NHS litigation Authority. They look after cases of clinical negligence and other claims against the NHS.

In 2013/14 they received 11,945 new claims, up from 10,129 in 2012/13.

If you are unhappy with the way you have been treated in the NHS, or haven’t received a proper apology, why not speak to one of our experts. Pryers are a leading national firm of Medical Negligence Lawyers and have extensive experience of cases involving negligent medical treatment. Our dedicated team of lawyers and experts are well equipped to investigate and advise on all issues of medical treatment.