The number of payouts being made by hospital trusts in the UK is growing significantly, with London Trusts alone paying out over £200m a year once costs and fees are taken in to account.
The amount of such claims is also rising, with one recent high profile case resulting in a £5m settlement for the parents of a girl who was left with brain damage after negligence during childbirth.
Whether this means that medical negligence lawyers are getting better at getting compensation for their clients or whether this is a direct result of stretched budgets leading to mistakes at every level of the NHS is not exactly clear, but either way the rise in figures highlights the importance of knowledge for patients both before and after any serious operations or procedures.
Knowing that certain hospitals have been more prone to serious mistakes may help patients to look at other alternatives, whilst those who find themselves with serious problems after negligent treatment should be more aware of exactly what they are due. In the latter case, it will be vital to find the right medical negligence solicitors to help when making a claim, ensuring that they have a good track record in not only winning such fights, but also in getting the right level of compensation for their clients.
The rise in claims should send a sharp message to those at the top of the tree when it comes to both budgeting and planning within the NHS. Whilst £200m may only be a fraction of the yearly NHS budget, it is a significantly bigger fraction of the budget used by London hospitals, and that money could easily go to helping bolster struggling workforces, dramatically reducing the chances of tired or under qualified individuals making even more costly mistakes. After all, spending the money on preventing issues rather than compensating them could seriously alter many individuals’ lives for the better and help reduce the trauma that can be associated with negligence on both sides.
For now, however, until changes are made in the right places or budgets are increased to help combat such potential issues, it will simply be important for those needing medical treatment to know their rights and to know where they should seek such treatment. In the event of issues arising, it will also be important for individuals (or in worst case scenarios, their families) to know what medical negligence compensation they are likely to be entitled to and to know which lawyers to talk to about making such a claim.
Those who have suffered medical negligence should not suffer in silence. We should all have access to top rate medical care, and with budgets being stretched more and more every single year, it seems as though this basic right is no longer consistently available. Of course, mistakes can happen, but many of the mistakes that are made are the direct result of dwindling resources and tired staff. In turn, those that find themselves facing serious problems due to these mistakes deserve compensation accordingly.