Kate Oldfield – managing partner and head of Clinical Negligence – discusses Clinical Negligence Mediation: Complaints against NHS Hospitals

A couple of months ago the NHS Litigation Authority launched a new Mediation Service. Helen Vernon, the Chief Executive of NHSLA, announced that: “Mediation is an excellent forum for dispute resolution and provides injured patients and their families with an opportunity for face-to-face explanations and apologies when things go wrong and reducing the need for unnecessary litigation”.

Davis Blank Furniss wholeheartedly supports the principle of Mediation. The NHS has a duty of candour and within a mediation environment they can be open and honest.  However, it is essential that patients are on the same footing as the individual trust.  Unless the patient simply wishes to receive an apology they must never attend Mediation without being represented.

At Davis Blank Furniss, we receive a large number of enquiries from clients who have been poorly treated by organisations within the NHS umbrella. Contrary to popular belief they do not always seek compensation. Some clients simply wish to have an acknowledgement from the medical staff concerned that something has gone wrong or that a mistake has been made. Many are happy to receive an apology or more importantly to be provided with an assurance that matters will change.

Sadly, the majority of our clients would not be satisfied with an apology or assurances. Many have been left badly injured by medical mistakes. Some are not able to work and some have considerable care needs. The only way to address these issues is to obtain a sum of money to assist the injured person and to help in their quest to lead as normal a life as possible. Only a financial settlement is appropriate in these circumstances.

If a patient were to attend Mediation on their own, without the benefit of legal assistance, they would not understand the basis of their claim and would not be on par with an experienced NHSLA negotiator. This inequality could lead to an unfair outcome.  If a patient accepts a settlement at the end of a mediation then they have to enter into a binding agreement. Once the agreement is signed they then lose their right to litigate.

It is therefore imperative to speak to a suitably qualified clinical negligence solicitor before attending any such Mediation.

For more information about Kate and her work, please click HERE.

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