hospital medical ward

Clinical Negligence in the News

The NHS has announced major incidents within a number of their hospitals across the UK. These major incidents, caused by mounting pressures on NHS staff, lead to an increase in clinical negligence, as understaffed departments struggle to cope with increasing patient demands.

What Is a Major Incident?
Hospitals declare a major incident when they are finding it difficult to provide sufficient levels of care to their patients. This usually happens when demand is exceptionally high, or levels of staff are unusually low.

The measure enables them to seek extra help from outside their own hospital. For example, extra nurses may be brought in from another NHS authority. Once a major incident has been declared, the hospital are authorised to limit the flow of patients into the hospital. Routine operations and non-urgent outpatient appointments are often rescheduled, ensuring sufficient beds are available to patients who arrive at the hospital as a matter of urgency.

Which Hospitals Have Been Affected?
According to the news, major incidents have recently been declared in a number of hospitals across the UK, including the following locations:
• Gloucestershire
• North Yorkshire
• Surrey
• Staffordshire

What is Clinical Negligence?
Clinical negligence arises when medical professionals fail to provide adequate levels of care to their patients. When NHS services are stretched, particularly when they are understaffed or the demand increases, mistakes are more likely to occur. These mistakes can be relatively minor, but, in some cases, can significantly impact the life of the patient involved.

There are many types of clinical negligence that may arise. When hospitals declare a major incident, and routine appointments are delayed, this means diagnoses of major illnesses are often delayed. In some cases this is fatal, as the delay reduces the amount of time available for treatment as the illness progresses.