The 2006 NHS Redress Act was intended to offer patients a quicker and fairer alternative to expensive and lengthy legal battles. However the Dept of Health has failed to produce the necessary secondary legislation to make it operational as per newspaper reports in Aug/Sept 2009. thus the Act is totally unworkable in England, meanwhile in Scotland and Wales they are working hard upon it, it is reported!
Both lawyers, medical professionals, Parliamentary Health Select Committee and patient safety campaigners have severely criticised the failure, some saying they are "dismayed" others describing it as "appalling".
This Act in it's Statement of Policy in 2006 stated:
7. The key policy drivers for the proposed reforms are:
i) the current system is perceived to be complex and slow
ii) the current system is costly both in terms of legal fees and diverting clinical staff from clinical care; there is a negative effect on NHS staff morale and on public confidence;
iii) patients are dissatisfied with the lack of explanations and apologies or reassurance that action has been taken to prevent the same incident happening to another patient; and
iv) the system is said to encourage defensiveness and secrecty in the NHS, which stands in the way of learning and improvement in the health service.
8. The NHS Redress Bill took forward recommendation 1 from Making Amends from earlier bills in the early 2000's:
"an NHS Redress "Scheme" should be introduced to provide investigations when things go wrong, remedial treatment, rehabilitation and care when needed; explanations and apologies; and financial compensation in certain circumstances",
9. The Bill provides for a more consistent and open response to patients when things go wrong with their NHS Hospital care, placing the emphasis on putting things right for them. It will promote learning and improvement in the NHS, and provide the impetus for wider service improvement.
10. …….The NHS Redress Scheme will help local organisations to deliver improved response to their patients……Providers will investigate when something may have gone wrong with a patient's care, with a view to both putting things right for that individual patient, and learning from that patient's experience to improve the quality and safety of future care…..
11. The Bill will provide a genuine alternative to litigation for less severe cases where there is a qualifying liability in tort arising out of hospital treatment, removing the risk and cost of litigation from the patient. The scheme will aim to address the delays that are inherent in the current system and help reduce the general burden of litigation costs (which cost the NHS nearly half a billion pounds every year)………….
I will not continue to replicate all the 24 pages and points in this policy document and Act – you can look on www.dh.gov.uk www.parliamentuk/publications or www.opsi.gov.uk/acts for full information.
The Redress Act 2006 needs redressing itself. The routes now for loging a complaint against the NHS are inherently flawed to the advantage of the NHS not the suffering patient. None of the above has happened. Due to its ineffectiveness patients are still left to deal with more negative NHS staff who adopt a protectionalist attitude towards colleagues at the slightest indication that something may have gone wrong, and these injured patients are left with no thorough investigations and or treatments and are put at risk. Patients still not being given an explanation and apologies or reassurance that action will be taken for them or to prevent the same incident happening to others.
The Complaints Procedure does not speed things up, instead creates delays causing medical professionals to effectively down tools upon the care and treatment of a patient. PALS and ICAS those bodies that are available to help patients with their complaints and provide advice how to negotiate the NHS Complaints Procedure are not independent advisors (they are funded by the Department of Health), they also cannot give advise to you but only assist you stating "it is your complaint"? The main thing anyone in this situation needs is sound advice and help, as you are so ill anyway to be dealing with more stresses and pressures upon you.
The Government needs to go back to the initial piece of legislation raised with regard to time limits upon having to lodge a legal claim in court for Personal Injury and Medical/Clinical Negligence and change it from the current 3 years to at least 8-10 years. Thus ensuring that both public and private sector organisations cannot continue to procrastinate via a one sided slow inept complaints procedure. Forcing the NHS to take it's responsibilities of Duty of Care seriously and suffer the consequences for it's negligent acts, preventing them in effect escaping their liability and responsibilities via a Time Loophole in the Law by passing a patient around like a parcel and sending them for irrelevant tests and investigations or none at all! so they can avoid giving the patient a diagnosis never mind a reason for their current problem. As solicitors (that includes no win no fee) will not take on a case of negligence without a diagnosis, therefore, it is obviously in the NHS's favour to not provide one until it is too late for someone to take Legal Action, never mind 3 years of living hell, immense distress and pain to the injured party.
Why does this idea matter?
It is important, to please, please vote and stop this humanitarian atrocity and infringement upon a persons basic civil and human rights.
This affects the poorest moreso who have no money to go privately to obtain medical tests, diagnosis and treatment. Also, be aware now that the NHS have policies in place that should a patient go privately for anything including drugs not supplied on the NHS, the NHS can then refuse to treat that person at all afterwards – that is blatantly victimisation for trying to resolve your health problem when the NHS clearly aren't! GP's and Consultants also refusing access to 2nd Opinions and investigatory procedures/consultation along with refusing access to other hospitals in other health authorities via NHS Choices – only allowing the injured patient to make complaint but still being retained within the health authority where the original incident occurred! Thus entrapment and a contravention of Freedom laws.
Vote for this, me and the many, many 1000's that are in this atrocious situation. It is a contravention of the Human Rights Act, an animal would not be treated in this manner! It certainly is not satisfactory to be told "that the reason you have not been diagnosed and treated within the NHS's new 18 week pathway (this being a year ago) is because you ae one of the 94.6% they are allowed not to treat in that timeframe so tha's alright"!
So if a Trust Hospital treats say 500,000 patients a year the above statement means that 27000 of those patients do not have to be treated at all with a reasonable timeframe and if there are 150 similar sized Trusts in England that would equate to 4,050,000 patients around England in the same situation as me – alarming!
The other very important reasons that urgent changes to the existing Acts, Bills, Laws etc that govern this area is that:
– the NHS is in effect palming the immediate and future costs of their mistakes/negligences off upon the DWP and Social Services. Who are having to pick up the costs of these injured peoples care and provision of disability living allowance and incapacity benefits. These are targeted areas for future reductions by the Government, however how can these targets be achieved if the NHS continues to do this
– the Right to claim Unfair Dismissal Laws became more restrictive during the Labour Governments Term! Only allowing 3 months less 1 day to claim unfair dismissal. This, is too short a period when you are at a time when you cannot depend upon the NHS to fix the problem quickly just because you have been injured by them and they fear litigation!
– The Disability Discrimination Act is no safety umbrella for those affected in this manner. It cannot enforce employers to make Reasonable Adjustments for those that have become disabled as nobody can make a judgement of what is a reasonable and safe adjustment and in fact determine a persons capability to still do some form of work safely when they cannot obtain information from a GP or Consultant as to what the diagnosis is, and these medical professionals will not commit to say whether you are fit to work, stating the employer should determine that or be patient and wait until the NHS have carried out all their investigations (when in fact they are not carrying out any investigations)!!
– 1000's of people are being cast into a black hole, losing everything physically, mentally, financially, socially and forced to live in poverty.
People even after the Redress Act 2006 have no choice but to be forced to go down the legal channels route if in fact they can. To try and get something done to help them – they are not malingering to get something for nothing through the so called "Claim Culture". Nobody really wants to have to go through the stress and trauma of having to make a complaint against a medical practitioner/organisation, they just want to be fixed and returned to some normality of a life.
I apologise for this being lengthy in content, however, ti is massively important to get the point across to all who do not realise this is going on. As Mr Cameron has said recently "There needs to be a People Power Revolution and democratic accountability in the public sector" I believe the NHS Redress Act was established to provide a shield for the NHS to avoid it's half a billion pounds a year litigation bill as clearly stated in Point 11 of the Policy Statement – Surely the answer is to treat those people swiftly that have suffered negligence therefore avoiding the massive legal bills for compensation once a person has lost everything?
Thank you for listening, I will now have to lay down for a few days, but hope my effort and pain makes a difference – please!
I challenge the new Coalition Government to make a true difference now, if not now to help my lot – I now coming to 2 years and 10 months since my medical injury still with no answers, diagnosis, relief to the daily pain and disabilities I have suffered, along with the loss of my public sector job and very nearly my sanity – but to prevent any other single person having to go through this. Have a look at www.nhsexposedblog.blogspot.com if you think it all incredulous! It is time for masssive change, our NHS is lagging behind the majority of the world now when it once was an organisation to be proud of.