Out of hours GPs who make terrible errors hit the headlines with the case of Dr Ubani in 2008.But what about hospitals?
The accepted view is that all doctors operating in the NHS hospital system are covered by the NHS indemnity - sometimes called the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts or CNST.I thought so too - until a recent case came across my desk.
My client underwent shoulder surgery at an NHS hospital in Surrey in 2008. The treating surgeon was an invited guest from Italy, taking part in something called the International Shoulder Conference. His surgery did not go to plan and I have written to the Trust setting out the case against them. Their response included the worrying news that they cannot confirm or deny that they are indemnifying the Italian surgeon. I have now had to write to the Italian surgeon asking him for his insurance details.
At the same time I have issued a court application demanding to see the legal agreements between the NHS Trust and the Italian surgeon.This is the first time I have come across such a situation. If the NHS confirm that the are not liable for the surgical errors then my client will have to pursue his claim against the Italian doctor and possibly faces having to pursue the case through the Italian court system.
As the NHS fragments and outsourcees surgery this is a situation which will probably crop up again in the future. I am sure that the public will be amazed to hear that such a situation has been allowed to happen.
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