Over-worked? Under-paid? -NHS negligence

nhsYou don’t have to look very far to find a story about someone who has suffered poor care at the hands of the NHS.  In fact, that is the experience for almost a third of the people in a recent survey (Source: First4Lawyers).  We are so lucky in this country to have free health care, not to have to worry about whether we can afford to seek help if we or our family become ill.  Cuts in funding mean that staff are often vastly overstretched, working long hours and perhaps this is why their judgement is failing at times.

Medical negligence solicitors often get a bad rap.  They are blamed for the compensation culture we now appear to be living in.  Medical negligence claims have risen 80% in 6 years (Source: The Telegraph), with a massive £22.6 billion estimated in payouts for negligence claims this year alone (source: Daily Mail).  This is a huge growth and so there is obviously a need for such solicitors.

My personal experience when I was pregnant, could have so easily ended so differently.  At 39 1/2 weeks my waters broke and I went to hospital.  They did a quick exam and informed me that they hadn’t broken, despite pretty obvious signs that they had!  I was sent home and was told to wait for my waters to break.  Luckily the following day I had a consultant appointment (due to SPD) and told her what had happened and my suspicions.  She did another exam and eventually a dip test.  After a few more hours she confirmed that my waters had in fact broken.  I was booked in to be induced the next day and ‘Baby’ was born the morning after induction, over 70 hours after my waters had broken.  Due to this our baby had swelling on her head and had to be helped out by forceps (the swelling prevented them using the ventouse).  The risk of infection is great after 24 hours, so at 70 + hours, it was a very scary time.  If I hadn’t had the consultant appointment, I wouldn’t have seen anyone until the following Tuesday (Easter weekend).  I worry what would have happened to our baby, should my contractions not have started on their own.  All this because I wasn’t believed.  It was my first baby, so how would I know it was my waters breaking!  I know at least 3 other mums who haven’t been believed when they have been in the same situation.

A recent article in the Telegraph highlights the case of a baby who died after birth, as the mother wasn’t listened to and was labelled ‘paranoid ‘ and an ‘anxious new mum’.  This issue seems to be widespread as a survey recently found that 36% of people felt Doctors didn’t listen to them (Source: First4Lawyers).

I’m sure no-one goes into any Health Care profession with any other motivation, but the desire to help people.  However, with budget cuts and an over stretched service, I believe the occurrence of these cases will continue to rise.

What have your experiences been of the NHS?  Are they positive or negative?

This post was written in collaboration with First4Lawyers.

All opinions, however, are my own

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