Medical doctor at work in a hospital looking at a tablet screen

Is patient safety being jeopardised by the NHS covering up their mistakes?

Over the years, many NHS trust hospitals have covered up the mistakes of their medical staff, but has this been to the detriment of its patients?

The question was raised in the recent case of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, who was struck off by the General Medical Council (GMC) and convicted of gross negligence manslaughter over the tragic death of a six year old boy. Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, humbly, held up her hands and admitted that she had made a mistake, but the cost was her career and reputation.

Following her conviction, many doctors and nurses have now expressed their concern over how her case was handled, stating that this could discourage medical professionals coming forward where mistakes are made.

It has been agreed that medical practitioners need to own up to errors when they are made, but many are too scared to as they risk prosecution and conviction that could cost them their careers as demonstrated in this case.

It has been reported that officials now want future misconduct hearings against medical practitioners, such as midwifes and nurses to be heard ‘behind closed doors’. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) wants to replace the current process with a system that encourages the early admission of mistakes by allowing them to continue working if they have admitted that they were at fault and can then prove that they have learnt their lesson.

Doctors and nurses, regardless of their qualifications and training, are as human as anyone else and it is inevitable that mistakes will be made. However, it is the avoidable negligent mistakes which are of a public concern and it is essential that we do not implement a system that keeps these buried. It has been established that the intention of any new policy must be to reduce the consequences of mistakes, rather than mask the true picture. 

Ally Taft, Partner, at the Medical Accident Group says, “It will be crucial to keep a balance between punishment and incentive where there have been failings, for both NHS staff and patients. Any new process that is implemented to encourage staff to come forward and admit their mistakes will have to be considered carefully and not be used to cover up those shortcomings. Where loved ones have died in circumstances that are unclear, families should be entitled to know exactly what has happened without suspicion that something is being covered up.”

As an experienced local Worcester firm, we have managed to secure an award of compensation for many clients who have experienced substandard and/or negligent treatment from the NHS, which unfortunately the NHS has tried to brush under the carpet. If you have suffered from poor treatment, Medical Accident Group can help. We have a team of dedicated clinical negligence solicitors, with over 30 years’ experience, who will guide you through the process of making a claim. If you believe you have a claim, call the team now on 0800 050 1668 or fill in the form below.

Medical doctor at work in a hospital looking at a tablet screen Medical doctor at work in a hospital looking at a tablet screen

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Ally Taft, Head of Clinical Negligence

Starting out as a physiotherapist, Ally embarked on her legal training knowing that she wanted to specialise in clinical negligence from the outset. Now a partner for Medical Accident Group, her experience and medical understanding have stood her and her clients in good stead, combined, as they are, with her determination to seek justice for clients whose lives have been devastated by clinical negligence.

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