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Learning from error to improve the care for all

By Tim Spring, Partner, Moore Barlow Solicitors

Medical care in the UK is generally of a very high standard, but sometimes patients with genetic haemochromatosis suffer avoidable harm as a result of error.  A variety of injuries may result from a delay in diagnosis.

What are your options when things go wrong?

If you feel the medical care you have received falls short of the standard you are entitled to expect, you have the following options :

  • Raise your concern with your treating doctor – the NHS Duty of Candour was introduced in November 2014. You are entitled to a frank explanation.
  • Make a formal complaint – your letter should be polite, succinct, factually accurate and request a written reply. The HUK legal helpline can provide free advice.
  • Legal Advice straight away – this is generally appropriate when the physical or psychological consequences of the harm are more than short lived.

If you have come to harm as a result of poor care, you probably want four things :

  • an explanation of what has happened and why
  • an apology
  • an assurance that lessons will be learned to prevent it happening again
  • fair compensation.

To pursue a claim for compensation it will be necessary to instruct a firm of solicitors specialising in clinical negligence work.  On your behalf they will retain medical experts with a national and sometimes international reputation.  It is they who will advise on whether or not care has fallen below an acceptable standard and whether any failures they identify have caused or materially contributed to a physical or psychological injury.

Specialist solicitors know who to retain, what questions to ask and how to evaluate the strength of the medical evidence obtained.

Time Limits

While there are some exceptions, generally you will need to bring a clinical negligence claim within 3 years of the date you knew, or ought to have known, that an injury might be attributable to a delay in diagnosing haemochromatosis.  In many cases this knowledge may only be acquired many years later.

Who do I bring a claim against?

Clinical negligence claims can be brought against general practitioners, hospitals and all healthcare providers.

Compensation

The starting point for assessing the value of the injury itself in monetary terms is the medical evidence.  It will generally be necessary for an independent medical examination to be arranged with a specialist who will have access to your medical records.  Apart from this sum you will also be entitled to recover compensation for any financial loss you have suffered, for example loss of earnings and out of pocket expenditure. In addition, you will be able to claim for any future anticipated losses, for example the cost of care you may require and any partial or complete loss of earnings. Each compensation award is individually calculated to take in to account everyone’s unique circumstances.

Funding Your Claim

The most commonly available method of funding is a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) which is often described as “no win, no fee”.

This method of funding can eliminate the risk of incurring legal expenditure, and at the same time place you in the same position as a defendant in ensuring your claim is properly resourced.  A solicitor can advise you of the details of this. 

To learn more, check out this video where Tim Spring explains how to get help when things go wrong :

Click here for a transcript of this video

Who are Moore Barlow?
Moore Barlow LLP are a firm of specialist solicitors, with office in Southampton, Richmond-Upon-Thames, City of London, Guildford, Woking and Lymington. They are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (number 48761).