When you receive medical treatment in the UK, the chances are very good that you won’t experience any difficulty. You’ll have your symptoms examined, your problem diagnosed, and an appropriate therapy will be competently administered.
In a minority of cases, however, this doesn’t happen. In some cases, you’ll be mistreated to a degree that qualifies as medical negligence. There are a few criteria that need to be satisfied for mistreatment to qualify as medical negligence. The standard of care will need to fall below that provided by a competent professional, and the patient (or claimant) will need to have suffered harm as a result.
Clinical Negligence Claims Are At An All-Time High
In the financial year ending 2021, the number of cases closed by the NHS in England was 15,397 – which represented a slight decrease of around 6% from the following year. NHS Resolution attributes this to ‘the operational challenges of the pandemic’. They have made a conscious decision to focus on live cases, rather than on closing out already-settled claims.
The number of cases received, however, was 12,629 – which is a rise of 951.
Non-Clinical Claims Are At An All-Time Low
For non-clinical claims against the NHS, the figures actually fell by 985, from 3,744 in 2019/20 to 2,759 in 2020/21. This is not likely to represent part of an ongoing trend, however; it’s more easily attributed to the difficulty in actually getting onto hospital premises, and for the legal industry to operate during the pandemic.
Medication Errors Are Largely To Blame
Being prescribed the wrong medication can potentially be disastrous. Not only will your problem not be addressed – but you might suffer side effects unnecessarily. Moreover, the delay in prescribing effective treatment can sometimes be disastrous.
Researchers estimate that around 237 million medication errors are committed by NHS England every year, at a cost of around 712 lives. The same researchers estimate that avoidable adverse drug reactions could contribute to thousands more, however.
There’s A New Cap On Costs
The UK government is looking into imposing a cap on costs to ensure that lower value cases are settled more quickly. This would help to avoid unnecessary legal costs. Claimant costs are around four times as high in these cases than are defendant costs – and this change is intended to eliminate much of these. It is suggested that the proposals might save around half a billion pounds over the next decade.