Why should the NHS pay compensation for Clinical Negligence?

Sandra Patton, of Ashlton KCJ

Sandra Patton, of Ashlton KCJ - Credit: Archant

Legally Speaking with Ashton KCJ

When you take a car to a mechanic you expect the work to be done to a certain standard.

If, say, the brakes are replaced, and on the way home they failed causing you to have an accident, you would probably not think twice about making a claim against the mechanic. So why is it that many of us are sensitive about suing a hospital or a doctor?

Is it because we still put doctors on a pedestal?

Perhaps we feel squeamish claiming compensation from what is, effectively, taxpayers’ money? Or is it simply the case that it has never happened to you?

We often hear people discussing the so-called ‘compensation culture’ and the fact that compensation settlements are too high.

The fact is, however, that purely compensatory payments within the UK are extremely low.

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For example a young girl, Amy, suffers a severe brain injury as a result of medical negligence. In successfully suing the hospital she is likely to be awarded approximately £250,000 in terms of the purely compensatory award for her injury, for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity that she has suffered, and will suffer for the remainder of her life, as a result of her brain injury.

Effectively, it compensates Amy for the fact that she will never lead an independent life.

However, in reality, Amy’s award for compensation is likely to reach millions of pounds. Amy will never lead what we perceive to be a ‘normal’ life. She will never work, she will always require care, she will never be able to bathe herself, take care of her personal hygiene or drive a car. All the things that many of us take for granted.

Her claim will, therefore, include the cost of private care for the remainder of her life, any therapies required to improve her cognitive or physical functioning, aids and equipment such as wheelchairs and adaptations to her home or appropriate accommodation.

So, in reality, the high award of damages is to provide Amy with the opportunity to live as independent and fulfilling a life as possible, to restore her as far as we can to her pre-accident condition.

Lest we forget, Amy would not have had this brain injury at all but for the hospital’s negligence and, where there has been a failure of care, the law quite properly provides a right to damages.

Sandra Patton

Head of Medical Injury

Ashton KCJ

T: 01473 232425

E: sandra.patton@ashtonkcj.co.uk


This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. We would advise you to seek professional advice before acting on this information.

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