The NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) launched its new mediation service for resolving disputes earlier this month. This followed a successful mediation pilot scheme in July 2014 when the NHSLA reported that the scheme had been well received by both clinicians and patients.
The new service is designed to support injured claimants, their families and healthcare staff in working towards resolution without going to court.
When it comes to clinical and medical negligence claims, our clients bring legal action for the following two main reasons:
Firstly, to ensure a healthcare provider acknowledges any mistakes it has made and takes active steps to prevent the same thing happening to anyone else. This is the most commonly cited important reason to bring a claim. Under the Duty of Candour, there is a legal obligation on a hospital, clinic or other healthcare provider to inform a patient if mistakes have been made which have caused significant harm.
One question a claimant might ask themselves before mediation is “How will I know what constitutes a good settlement”?
Secondly, to seek compensation for injuries they have suffered. This includes reimbursement of financial losses such as loss of earnings and to be able to provide for future needs such as care, equipment and medical costs.
NHS mediation can help by giving an injured patient the platform to directly address the above issues and giving the NHS the opportunity to be open and honest with its patients. However, although an independent mediator would be present at an NHS mediation, they are not a judge and a patient may not know whether they have reached an appropriate agreement. It is vital that all of a patient’s rights and entitlements are fully understood by them before they enter into a compensation settlement agreement otherwise there is a danger any agreement will be insufficient to meet their needs.
One question a claimant might ask themselves before mediation is “How will I know what constitutes a good settlement”? At such an uncertain and vulnerable time, a medical negligence lawyer can help investigate what exactly has gone wrong and why, to ensure a fair and just outcome. Furthermore, going into a mediation a claimant should know what their options are if the mediation fails and the strength of their case should it go to court.
These are very important issues that an injured person, meeting with the NHS, may find difficult to resolve without legal assistance. With our specialist clinical negligence team at Slater and Gordon we can help advise you on all of the key issues surrounding NHS mediation.
Ian Cohen is a clinical negligence solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Liverpool.
If you have been affected by clinical negligence our clinical and medical negligence solicitors offer a free consultation. Please call us on 0800 916 9049 or tell us what happened so we can provide you with expert legal advice, at no cost to you.