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Clinical Negligence, the NHS and COVID-19

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Clinical Negligence, the NHS and COVID-19

For most of us, 2020 has been one of the most unusual times in our lives. Yes, there are negatives but there are also lots of positives.

One of my favourite positives from 2020 was the Thursday NHS clap at 8pm. I absolutely adored the solidarity from the entire country during a time that is so difficult for many. I love that we are all united behind our precious NHS, one of the biggest assets in the UK.

I also admire how so many people think of creative ways to raise money for the NHS, such as the Run 5k challenge - where you donated £5 and nominated 5 people after running 5 kilometres - or Captain Tom Moore raising over £32,000,000 at the age of 100 by walking 100 lengths of his garden!  All these acts of kindness show how much we appreciate what doctors and nurses continue to do for us during this difficult time.

During the first lockdown, I read an article in a tabloid paper titled “Why are we suing the NHS when we say we love it so much?” I have to admit, this article concerned me.

No one chooses to have poor health, life-threatening illnesses or to be injured in the first place. Moreover, certainly no one chooses to have further complications due to medical negligence which results in them having an even poorer quality of life. I think it’s safe to say that no one ever wishes to be in the unfortunate position where they need to consider a medical negligence claim.

Doctors and nurses are, like the rest of us, human and therefore it is inevitable that they will make mistakes. We all make mistakes in our careers. However, for most of us, ours usually do not result in life or death scenarios. Unfortunately, their mistakes can. Our current and, hopefully, continued sentiment towards the medical profession should not mean they should have a free pass for making errors or causing further injury in their care. When negligence occurs, surely the medical profession should be held accountable? Not only to allow the injured party the appropriate compensation so they can have a chance at a decent quality of life, but also in order for the industry to learn from their mistakes to ensure it is not a reoccurring matter.

Like so many of us, I have family and friends working for the NHS so I know they are overworked and under resourced. This is only exacerbated during a global pandemic. However, this should not mean that we guilt trip the unfortunate injured parties into not claiming compensation for their deteriorated quality of life as a result of clinical negligence.  

Furthermore, it’s worth noting here that in order to bring a successful claim against the NHS for clinical negligence, you need to prove breach of duty and causation. You need to show on a 51% chance or greater that the care provided was negligent. Only then can a claim be considered.

Finally, I would like to add that I haven’t come across any evidence yet which suggests that COVID-19 will result in further claims against the NHS. At this stage, simply no one knows.

You may love the NHS and still require compensation from it. Don’t feel guilty.

Written by Annie Hodjat.

At Dutton Gregory Solicitors, our expert clinical negligence team have a wealth of experience. If you wish to discuss your potential claim further please contact the Clinical Negligence team at Dutton Gregory on 01202 315005 or contact@duttongregory.co.uk.