Why all families should qualify for compensation when NHS negligence causes a death

Clinical negligence solicitor Richard Kayser, from our London office, asks for all families to be entitled to free government-funded legal representation where there are concerns over the cause of death of a patient in hospital…

richard_kayserWhat really stuck in my mind today was the question ‘do families really receive justice when someone dies as a result of negligence?’.

As a clinical negligence specialist, I’ve considered this one over and over again as I advise families on whether or not I feel they have sufficient grounds to take their case forward.

If a hospital is found to have negligently caused a patient’s death, one’s immediate reaction is that the family or the person’s estate would receive compensation. But that’s doesn’t always happen.

Where someone dies and leaves a spouse or someone aged under 18, they are entitled to what is known as the Statutory Bereavement Award. However if that’s not case, the family may not be entitled to anything more than the funeral costs.

Would entitlement to this award change anything? Absolutely. Because it would allow a family access to specialist lawyers who can carry out an investigation into what happened, help the family understand why, and encourage the hospital to make changes. Damages also serve as a deterrent and punishment which, in turn, should force the hospital to make changes.

But if the award is not available, and there are no other losses, then the family could be left without help or representation and, more importantly, with out any answers. The current system is not only unfair but also leads to families not receiving justice, which surely cannot be right.

Change is needed to allow a family access to independent advice.

Richard Kayser   –   Direct Dial: 020 7653 3236


Medical Negligence,
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