Shrewsbury law firm shares views on NHS Stafford Hospital scandal
8th February 2013
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Following publication of the final inquiry of Robert Francis QC on the failings in the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust between 2005 and 2009, it is fair to say public response is one of shock and betrayal, says Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors of Shrewsbury.

The investigation revealed unnecessary suffering caused to hundreds of patients and approximately 400 unnecessary deaths, because the most basic standards of care were not observed and fundamental human rights were not respected.

Kay Kelly, a solicitor specialising in clinical negligence with Shropshire law firm Lanyon Bowdler, said “I was truly shocked at the extent of the revelations. Over the last few years there has been a phenomenal rise in clinical negligence claims.

"This has been blamed on the rising compensation culture and the availability of funding products minimising financial risk to a claimant bringing a claim. It has appalled me that there has generally been no acknowledgement that a fundamental reason for the increase in claims has been failing standards of care in UK hospitals.

“We would be foolish to think that the failures described in the Francis Report were only going on in one Hospital Trust in the UK. Many of the clients our clinical negligence department has acted for over the last few years have similar tales of poor standards and treatment from local hospitals, causing subsequent injury.

"Many initially made formal complaints but received “smokescreen” responses. Robert Francis QC reported that the patient voice was not listened to either by the Mid Stafford Hospital Trust, or local organisations which were meant to represent their interests.

“As a result of the failing standards and lack of transparency and candour throughout the system, medical negligence claims have become increasingly more important as a means of highlighting failures and bringing hospitals to account, and therefore ultimately raising standards, but I think all would agree solicitors should not be policing the NHS.

“Robert Francis QC advocates a real change in culture which will produce at the very least, the fundamental standards of care to which we are all entitled. This needs to be done immediately before more people suffer.

“A further scandal which the public are largely unaware of is that from 1 April Legal Aid is being withdrawn for clinical negligence cases, except for a very small proportion of cases involving birth injuries.

"At the same time, there are other changes to funding which will inevitably mean victims will have to pay some of their legal costs from damages they obtain as a result of medical negligence. There is little doubt these changes have been introduced to reduce the amount the Government is paying in legal costs from claims brought against the NHS.

"This is happening at a time when clearly there should be more accountability as recommended in the Francis Report. In my view, priority should be given to raising standards but ensuring victims’ needs and rights are still being met, and not side-lined in the pursuit of government cuts.”

If you would like to talk to Lanyon Bowdler, please call 01743 280282.

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