Fines would cut clinical negligence cases, Conservatives claim

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Posted 22/02/2010

The Conservative party has proposed new measures which aim to cut readmissions in hospitals and prevent clinical negligence cases occurring so often.

If the party comes to power, shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said that hospitals would receive a financial penalty if patients have to be taken back to wards with problems related to their original stay within a month.

However, NHS trusts would be allocated extra funding to look after patients at home once they have been properly discharged.

The Conservatives recently revealed that 500,000 patients a year are readmitted to hospital after being sent home too soon, a figure they attributed to unrealistic hospital waiting time targets.

It is claimed that the proposed new measures would remove the incentive to discharge people from hospital before they are fully recovered and therefore reduce the number of clinical negligence cases launched against NHS trusts.

Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp, a Clinical Negligence specialist at Ashtons Legal, said: “While we would all like fewer medical errors as they cause terrible consequences and even fatalities, I don’t think imposing fines is the way forward as this may well have cash flow implications that impact on patient care.

“Compensation for medical claims is presently paid by way of insurance. I would like to see a proper investigation and consultation about how we can work together to reduce medical accidents and, if they do occur, then deal quickly and compassionately with those who have been injured as a consequence, correcting whatever was wrong to prevent recurrence.

“Ashtons Legal are organising a National Conference to improve the handling of children’s claims in November 2010.”

Last year, Imperial College London found that over-worked doctors, carelessness and a lack of training are resulting in one in six NHS patients being misdiagnosed.


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