We are becoming used to hearing of cutbacks in the NHS, efficiency savings which are meaning the health service is coming under ever greater pressure to deliver. Statistics show that hospitals now are as busy as they have ever been, placing the service under great strain.
The NHS recognises that once bed occupancy exceeds 85% it is very difficult for nurses and other medical staff to give patients the best quality care and the most recent Dr Foster figures put occupancy rates at 88% in midweek and 90% for11 out of the last 12 months.
So are greater patient numbers putting the health service under ever greater strain?
If they are, it surely follows that the likelihood of medical negligence claims will be higher. After all the NHS’s own research suggests that even before the 85% maximum was reached, a tenth of patients suffered avoidable medical accidents.
Patients who want to take the medical negligence route must satisfy three requirements.
- They must show that the doctor owed a duty of care to the patient.
- That the doctor was negligent in his or her actions.
- That the patient therefore suffered some harm as a result.
To gain compensation the claimant would have to prove both liability and causation.
Liability – The doctor or other health professional must be found to have acted in a way that no other professional would have done.
Causation – It must be established that harm has been caused which would not otherwise have occurred on the balance of probability.
If these requirements are all satisfied then, for compensation purposes, the claimant’s loss is assessed in terms of quantum, which is the loss of current and future earnings, the extent of any reduction in terms of quality of life and any mental anguish that has been caused.
Each hurdle can prove difficult to overcome. For instance, with causation it can often be hard to establish that the harm caused was directly as a result of the clinical negligence or as a result of some underlying disease or illness. So, while some may have felt that, just because a doctor has got something wrong they must be entitled to some form of compensation. Clearly the law does not work that way and not only do you have to prove that the healthcare professional made an error, but that you have suffered significant injury as a result.
It makes sense, if you are planning to make a claim for compensation based on medical negligence to consult a legal team who understand the issue and who can put you in the best position to be fully compensated.