Guide issued to help NHS trusts learn from litigation claims

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The Getting it Right First Time (GIRFT) programme and NHS Resolution have together created a new best practice guide for improving patient safety within the NHS.

The guide focuses on helping NHS trusts learn more from medical negligence claims and offers trust clinicians, managers and legal teams a practical and structured approach to learning from litigation.

GIRFT’s ongoing communication with providers has highlighted that clinicians and managers in England often have little knowledge about the medical negligence claims being pursued against their department. If they were made more aware of ongoing claims and worked alongside legal teams throughout the process then there is likely to be an opportunity for learning and enhanced patient safety. The new guide, Learning from Litigation Claims, suggests measures that will make this possible, including:

  • the clinicians that work alongside trust legal teams to be appointed, with meetings integrated into job plans
  • allowing for ongoing discussion of claims to take place with clinicians in forums such as multidisciplinary meetings
  • ensuring that clinicians have an in depth understanding of the claims process
  • clinical staff should be informed when a new claim is initiated and should be supported throughout
  • involve patients, their families and carers to be involved in the investigation to ensure openness.

The best practice guide also provides a framework for improving the management of claims, including recommended datasets for reporting claims and advice on reducing the risk of negligence occurring by ensuring that robust processes are in place for surgical consent, documentation and patient education.

Kate Smith, a solicitor in the medical negligence team at Ashtons Legal, comments: “The steps as outlined in the guide should assist NHS trusts to fully learn from incidents and to ensure that these are not repeated. Of course financial compensation is crucial for our clients who have been injured as a result of clinical negligence in order to ensure their future needs are met. However, daily we hear from our clients that they would like recognition of the treatment, an apology and an assurance from the trust that it will not be repeated and families will be prevented from going through the same experience. Recognising the need for engagement with patients, and by providing feedback to clinicians within the trust who may have been involved, is a great step moving forward in preventing clinical negligence claims having to be brought.

If you have any queries concerning a potential clinical negligence claim please get in touch and we will be more than happy to help.”


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