`200 Cases of NHS Negligence a Day'

Article excerpt

MORE THAN 800 medical accidents happen in NHS hospitals every day, with more than 200 a result of negligence, a leading medical injury lawyer said yesterday.

Arnold Simanowitz, chief executive of the charity Action for Victims of Medical Accidents (AVMA), said that the growing burden of medical negligence claims on the NHS, which runs to billions of pounds, would be much higher if all those who suffered negligence claimed compensation.

At least 82,000 of an estimated 320,000 medical accidents in the NHS each year were due to negligence, but only 15,000 led to legal action, he said. "If all 82,000 took action we would be in a lot more trouble than we are today. And many patients are going without the compensation they need," Mr Simanowitz added. The National Audit Office reported last week that the NHS was facing a bill of pounds 2.8 billion for negligence claims. Although many cases fail to win compensation, many more are never begun because the patients do not know that they have been victims of negligence. Estimates of the number of medical accidents, based on an American study, were presented at a conference in London organised by the King's Fund and AVMA yesterday. Mr Simanowitz, speaking in the presence of the Health minister Baroness Hayman, said that the only figures collected centrally by the Government related to the cost of medical negligence claims. "It is a scandal that so many words have been written, so many conferences held and so many initiatives taken by hospital trusts, yet we still do not know the actual size of the problem," he said. Reliable figures were essential so that targets could be set by health authorities for the reduction of medical accidents. …