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Clinical Negligence: Profits Over Service? The Dying Light of NHS Care

Author and journalist, Hugh O’Shaughnessy, pays a beautiful and moving tribute to the NHS care his wife received during the last stages of her terminal ovarian cancer in an article everyone should read.

He describes an exemplary quality of care which he labels ‘superb’. Given so much recent publicity about failures in the provision of UK cancer care services it is encouraging to read his account. However alarmingly he contrasts the quality of care provided by sensitive and skilled NHS and Marie Curie staff with that provided by inexpert, ill-trained and uncommitted staff from a private provider, ‘a disorganised offshoot of some US corporation’.

It seems that the low standards of a profit-making company allowed it to undercut Marie Curie’s non-profit-making bid for the work. The cost to the NHS of care for his dying wife reduced but with so did the quality of care. In fact unable to trust carers to stay awake during night shifts, he gave up on them and took over care himself whilst the carers slept.

Money was saved from the NHS budget but wasted on staff turning up by failing to provide the service. Market economics becoming the driver of healthcare services is unlikely to improve care. If service-providers are chosen on price, quality is bound to reduce.

In the meantime there is no reason to think that clinical negligence will reduce. Poor care will mean injured and neglected patients seeking justice.

Paul Sankey is a solicitor specialising in clinical negligence. If you or a member of your family have a clinical negligence enquiry please call our expert clinical negligence solicitors on 0800 916 9049, fill in our short online claim form or email and one of our specialist clinical negligence team will be in touch.