Medical negligence in the UK: Which areas are most affected?

Last Updated on: 22nd November 2023, 09:37 am

Despite offering one of the best healthcare systems in the world, patients across the UK still risk mistakes made by general practitioners, pharmacists, hospital staff and other care providers. From incorrect prescriptions to crucial mistakes made during major operations medical mistakes come consequences of varying severity.

In the year spanning 2022-2023 alone, more than 13,000 clinical negligence claims were submitted to NHS England. There are several different types of negligence that you could face when seeking or receiving medical treatment, so it’s always worth knowing where you could risk ineffective or incorrect treatment.

How prevalent is medical negligence in the UK?

Unfortunately, medical negligence is relatively common. Serious cases happen less frequently, with most incidents involving minor errors or omissions that can be remedied before the patient experiences any ill-effects.

Mistakes in the administration and prescription of medication are widespread. It’s estimated that out of 237 million medication errors made every year in England, over half are made during administration and one in five are made during prescription.

Surgery mishaps, classed by the NHS as ‘Never Events’, are less common. There are several other extremely serious mistakes fall under the same category, and the NHS always reports such incidents. Between 1st April and 31st August 2023, at least 151 incidents met the definition of a Never Event.

Medical negligence: Which areas are most affected and why?

  1. Somerset:The Somerset NHS Foundation Trust has been under scrutiny for being one of the most severely impacted trusts where medical negligence claims payouts have been made.
  2. Greater Manchester:Unfortunately, there are several major claims known to have been made against the Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, including one by a man left wheelchair bound.
  3. North Wales: Staff at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board have made fatal mistakes. Several patient deaths may be linked to failings during treatment by vascular services undertaken at this Welsh firm.
  4. Portsmouth: Delayed diagnoses, staffing issues and failure to deliver appropriate care make the Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust one of the most troublesome in the UK.
  5. Herefordshire and Worcestershire: Amongst other severe mistakes and fundamental staffing issues, this hospital is publicly known to have misdiagnosed breast cancer and fail patients with mental health conditions.

What leads to medical negligence in good hospitals?

Even hospitals with an excellent reputation can encounter a severe incident and face negligence claims from patients. And patients have more reason to make a case when they use a personal injury claim calculator to find out how much compensation can be claimed after negligent treatment.

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to what causes medical negligence in the NHS. A few of the possible triggers can include:

  • Resource allocation
  • Staff shortages
  • Inexperienced staff, or lack of training
  • Health inequalities
  • Socioeconomic factors
  • Patient demographics

How can hospital trusts across the UK prevent medical negligence?

A few of the measures taken by trusts and hospitals include:

  • Enhanced patient safety protocols
  • Thorough and updated staff training procedures
  • Efficient complaint resolution
  • Improved communication with patients, including by telemedicine
  • Use of modern, approved tools and equipment
  • Conducting regular patient surveys

It’s imperative that every hospital must ensure a high quality of care for its patents. This starts by implementing strategies that affect every area of operations, ensuring compliance and transparency across every function that determines patient outcomes.

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