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18 Feb 21
Covid-19 and the Impact on Clinical Negligence Claims

A leading figure in the world of clinical negligence has suggested that sympathy and admiration for the NHS could be deterring legitimate claims for clinical negligence. Peter Walsh who is Chief Executive of the patient charity AVMA (Action against Medical Accidents) has warned that positive sentiment towards the NHS may also tempt the Government to pass more restrictive measures on making claims.

 

Figures have shown that there has already been a 45% fall in clinical negligence cases on the previous year.

As well as the issue surrounding sympathy and admiration toward the NHS then there have also been logistical issues caused as a result of the pandemic in terms of obtaining supportive expert evidence and medical records.

He indicated that:

“But there will become a time when there will need to be some catching up when people have time to think all of us are acutely aware of the pressure that staff at the NHS are under. There is a heightened reluctance to claim as a result of it”.

 

He also indicated there was a risk that the Government may feel emboldened to go further in terms of cutbacks and that this would be a threat to access to Justice.

The sympathy and admiration that falls on the NHS Service, is of course rightly placed and well deserved. However, it is vitally important that patients pursue legitimate clinical negligence claims.

Such claims have merits far beyond the damages that may be  recovered in that very often they are the only way in which answers to questions can be obtained.

They are also vitally important in holding the medical profession to account and ensuring that appropriate training and investment is received to enable the highest standard of care possible to be delivered and to ensure that there is a culture whereby mistakes are learned from.

Without such claims there is a risk that the standard of care may deteriorate.

Whilst the vast majority of treatment provided by the NHS is excellent, it is important that a culture of continuous improvement is apparent and legitimate clinical negligence’s cases are a way of ensuring this.

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