While the Government said it is working to create a ‘more open NHS culture’, the review looked into the quality of the investigations and the evidence that was relied upon, as well as the statements and records.
The public administration select committee has called for the ombudsman; Dame Julie Mellor, to appear before them while they are looking into the issue of NHS complaints and clinical failure. Her office has been accused by many of failing patients; cases include a hospital that admitted there were mistakes made in the delivery of a baby only after the parents had paid £250 for an independent clinical review. In another case the family of a 36-year-old man, who died after a life-threatening condition was undiagnosed, were told that they would have to take legal action to find answers.
The review being carried out by Dame Julie’s office found that 28 of the 150 cases should have been investigated as serious incidents. Situations like that of a 77 year-old man who died from sepsis two days after admission to hospital should have automatically triggered a ‘serious untoward incident’ but the findings were not identified in the hospital’s investigation.
Dame Julie said:
“When people make a complaint that they have been seriously harmed, they should expect it to be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated. The NHS must tackle the variation in the quality of its investigations but also needs to recognise when to initiate an investigation. When the NHS makes a mistake their duty is to investigate – these investigations shouldn’t be about attributing blame but should find out what happened and why in order to prevent the same mistakes from happening again. Our evidence too often shows this is not the case.”
According to Roy Lilley, a former NHS trust chairman, the investigations are simply being carried out by the wrong people:
“The trust is absolutely the wrong person to investigate this because the trust is investigating the trust, it should be done independently and outside the purview of that organisation,” he said.
Gavin Moat, senior Partner at Mercury Legal, was sympathetic to the situation saying:
“The NHS is under intense pressure to perform under sometimes very challenging circumstances. We understand that in these conditions mistakes will occur, the work carried out by solicitors helps to highlight serious cases which are not satisfied by the complaints procedure.”
The government have been clear on their ambition to ensure that the NHS is the safest health service in the world, but only by making sure that when things do go wrong, patients can be confident in the procedures in place, can the costs of unnecessary and time-consuming investigations begin to decrease.
If you or a loved one has been affected by this story or if you are unsatisfied with the NHS’ handling of your serious medical complaint, then you may have a claim for compensation. Speak to Mercury Legal about how you can make a No Win, No Fee claim for compensation – call 0800 122 3130 or ask for a call back from one of our experienced medical solicitors.