5th July 2023 marked 75 years of the National Health Service. The NHS England website discusses the achievements this establishment has celebrated over the last 75 years. There are undoubtedly many, from the world’s first CT scan on a patient in 1971 to the world’s first-ever national vaccination programme for Meningitis C.
In 1948, the then-Minister of Health, Aneurin Bevan, had an idea – a system that would provide free medical care for all (paid out of taxation) and which would evolve to meet the needs of each successive generation.
Amidst yet more questions surrounding maternity care in the UK, the question now is whether the NHS has been able to do that and whether it needs to undergo radical change to survive.
Donna Ockenden, responsible for reviewing maternity care failings in Shropshire, will undertake a similar review in Nottingham due to baby deaths and injuries at Nottingham University Hospital (NUH) NHS Trust. Ms Ockenden has confirmed her promise from September last year that the review will do all it can to effect change.
One thing we have more of in 2023, compared to 1948, is expectation. An expectation is that treatment will be provided free of charge, that it will be the best treatment available and that it will be carried out competently and in a timely fashion.
Some believe that the NHS is failing to meet these expectations.
Then, the expectation is that matters will be investigated and put right as far as possible.
The fact remains that sometimes treatment goes wrong; it is not carried out with the skill required to ensure that it is done safely and effectively. Mistakes are made, and those mistakes can leave patients with lifelong problems or facing further treatments which could have been avoided.
Unnecessary delays can cause illness to worsen, making the chances of successful treatment less likely and leaving people with lifelong problems which could have been avoided. This is, perhaps, most devastating with birth injury cases.
What can you do if you suffer an injury due to medical negligence?
As a clinical negligence lawyer, I see a lot of examples of what happens when things go wrong, but there must still be balance. We must remember that the vast majority of treatment the NHS provides is of an excellent standard. My clients are the exception and not the “norm”!
If you think the healthcare you have received has gone wrong or there has been an unreasonable delay, you can complain to the appropriate person. If it is your GP, you can request the complaints policy for that surgery and make a complaint. If it is a hospital, you can ask for the Trust complaint policy or contact PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) where you received the treatment. They will help you with the complaints process.
If you do not want to make a complaint, or perhaps you have made a complaint and you do not feel that it has been dealt with properly, or the mistake/delay is so severe that you wish to proceed more quickly, you can approach a clinical negligence lawyer like myself.
At Lester Aldridge, we have a team of lawyers experienced in medical mistakes and delays. We deal with all aspects of medical negligence, including birth injury cases (cerebral palsy). Our birth injuries team is led by David Healy and Liz Oaten, who have a wealth of experience in these cases. Liz is a member of all three specialist legal panels (APIL, AvMA and the Law Society).
The team also deals with cases involving spinal injuries, brain injuries, orthopaedic injuries, female health issues, and many others.