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14 December 2015

Medical negligence is being covered up by hospitals, inquiry finds

NHS Hospitals have been accused of ‘covering up’ serious mistakes that resulted in unnecessary deaths and caused harm to patients.

An inquiry by the NHS Ombudsman has revealed that hospitals cleared their staff of any wrongdoing in 73% of cases where failures led to the death or harm of a patient.

The report, which was published after visits to six hospital trusts in April and May of this year, found that the NHS had failed to carry out an independent review into more than half of the 150 cases it looked into.

In a fifth of investigations, the inquiry found that medical statements, crucial evidence, and interviews were missing.

In 41% of cases, inadequate explanations were given to complainants for what went wrong and why and bereaved families were met with a ‘wall of silence’ by NHS organisations who refused to fully explain what had happened to their loved ones.

Dame Julie Mellor, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, said: “Our review found that NHS investigations into complaints about avoidable death and harm are simply not good enough. They are not consistent, reliable or transparent, which means that too many people are being forced to bring their complaint to us to get it resolved.”

Her team investigated 536 cases of potentially avoidable deaths over the past year and upheld 264 complaints in total.

In one case, a one day old baby girl was left permanently brain damaged when a blood transfusion went wrong. Her parents waited three years for a proper explanation and the investigation turned out to have been led by a close colleague of the paediatrician in charge and none of the staff involved were interviewed.

Another case involved a young mother who died of breast cancer after twice being sent away by specialists only to be diagnosed two years later with incurable advanced cancer. The trust involved failed to conduct a full investigation or consider the impact of its failings on the woman, the inquiry found.

The inquiry was part of an effort to reduce the thousands of preventable deaths that are caused each year by clinical negligence, such as misdiagnosis, mistakes with medication, hospital infections, blood clots and bedsores.

We helped a client receive £3,500 in compensation after they suffered as a result of a failure by Chelsea & Westminster Hospital to properly administer UVB phototherapy

Have you been affected by these issues or know someone who may be a victim of hospital negligence? Longden, Walker & Renney are trusted medical negligence solicitors in the UK. We fight on behalf of our clients for compensation to cover any injury and financial loss, including the cost of any rehabilitative or corrective treatment required as a result of the negligence complained of.

Call our friendly, professional team of clinical negligence experts on 0191 5666 5000. You can also request a callback via our online enquiry form and we will contact you at a time that suits you. Your first advice session will be free and you will be under no obligation.