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Medical Negligence in the UK – Facts and Statistics

Each year the NHS receives more than 10,000 new claims for compensation for medical or clinical negligence. Although the number of claims have been in gradual decline when compared to the number of procedures carried out, we believe this number remains far too high and are here to help anyone who has been failed by our healthcare system.

What is medical negligence?

Medical negligence is when a medical professional or institute is in breach of the legal duty of care it owes to the patient. Medical or Clinical negligence can be almost anything which results in the patient coming to harm due to an individual or a process.

Some of the most frequent causes of claim are misdiagnosis and birth related negligence, others include failed or unnecessary operations. However, it is important to understand that with all medical procedure there is an inherent risk for the procedure to not work as desired, this does not always constitute negligence.

If you or a family member has had to endure an unsuccessful operation or had a poor outcome from treatment you may have difficulty making a claim. A claim for medical negligence has to be backed by evidence showing the operation was not carried out to an acceptable standard.

Medical and Clinical Negligence Facts and Statistics

A report recently published by the NHS states “In 2019/20 we have received 11,682 new clinical negligence claims and incidents, an increase of 998 (9.35%) compared to 2018/19”. While not all of these incidents lead to a claim being made, an incident should still be taken very seriously as it can show a potential weakness or vulnerability within the care provided.

The new Clinical Negligence Scheme for General Practice (CNSGP) received 401 new claims and incidents, of these 336 were reported incidents with 65 being actual claims.

Compared to 2018/19 there was an increase of 404 incidents reported in clinical negligence schemes excluding the CNSGP. One of the areas which has seen the largest increase in reported incidents is the gynaecology speciality, accounting for 208 of the 404 incidents reported, an increase of 145%.

The report states: “These claims involve the insertion of tension-free vaginal tape, transobturator tape, transvaginal tension free vaginal tape-obturator or vaginal mesh (vaginal tape or mesh) to treat symptoms of stress urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse and allegations tend to centre around (but not exclusively) failure to obtain adequate consent (e.g. failure to warn of risks of procedures or failure to offer alternative treatment) and/or substandard performance of surgery.”

The number of claims settled out of court has increased, something the NHS has been looking to improve on for some time, making claims less stressful for claimants and reducing the overall cost to the NHS. 71.5% of 15,550 clinical and non-clinical claims were settled with no proceedings in 2019/20 with 34.2% (5,312) being awarded damages, the other 37.3% (5,805) received no damages.

27.9% of claims were settled after formal court proceedings had been issued, with the majority (3,517) receiving damages, 823 claims were settled with no damages being awarded. Only 0.6% (93) of all claims made it to a trial in a court, of these 23 claimants were awarded damaged with the other 70 receiving no compensation.

Types of medical negligence

One of the most difficult parts of making a medical negligence claim can often be the doubt that you have suffered enough for a claim to be made, it can be a difficult decision choosing whether to pursue compensation, especially from the NHS.

We all understand how valuable the NHS is to society and recognise the amazing work they perform. But mistakes will and do occur, part of the long term improvements in care come from the claims which are made, helping to show potential weaknesses in the healthcare system.

Surgical negligence claims

It is important to remember the NHS performs millions of operations every year, the vast majority being successful.

Surgical negligence claims can often include, poor surgical performance, organ perforation during the procedure, the wrong operation being performed, the wrong part of the body being operated on and infections caused by poor hygiene or unsterilised equipment.

Birth injury claims

Childbirth is a wonderful time for most families, a time when a new addition has the ability to bring people together and an instant bond is created.

Unfortunately not all births do go to plan and both mother and or baby can be left with serious long term issues if undiagnosed or improperly treated by medical staff. Even worse, some injuries can be fatal. We strongly believe that no family should have to go through the trauma of losing a loved one during a childbirth.

Some fairly common claims for compensation for failings during childbirth include pre-eclampsia, uterine rupture, wrongful birth cases, cerebral palsy, second or third degree tears, hip dysplasia and the delay or failure to perform a caesarean section.

Misdiagnosis claims

In the UK it is common knowledge that GPs and medical professionals are under increasing pressure to deliver their services to a growing, ageing population. This strain has led to more mistakes being made in the diagnosis of patients conditions, common grounds for a misdiagnosis claim include:

When an illness or condition is missed entirely by the medical professional, albeit on a single occasion or multiple times.

An incorrect diagnosis, whether any incorrect treatment was carried out is irrelevant.

Failure of a GP to refer in time and to an appropriate specialist.

Failure to conduct appropriate investigations such as X-Rays.

Can you make a claim for medical negligence?

If you have been let down by a medical professional or a medical institute then you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation. When it comes to submitting a claim for compensation we would always recommend speaking to a solicitor, our team have years’ experience in handling claims against medical institutes. We always push for the maximum levels of compensation to help you or a loved one recover fully.

Most of our claims never reach the courts and we enter in early discussions with the defendants to settle the matter in the shortest time possible. If you are unsure about making a claim or unsure if you have a potential claim, please call the team at Injury Lawyers UK on 0800 285 1411 or submit an online enquiry form

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