SIN has been campaigning
for over two years for a "Victim's Compensation Fund", to quote from our
"Aims & Objectives":
" A review of the
huge medical litigation bill currently running [now] at £4 bill.
per year is urgently needed. A new approach to iatrogenic damage is imperative.
suggests a victim's compensation fund is set up. part paid by the tax-payer
and part by the Medical Insurance Companies. If damage has occurred, the
patient is informed and am assessment of damage made. In parallel an
investigation is carried out to determine the cause of the mistake and
to establish accountability." July 1999
In 1999 the Health select Committee
held an Inquiry into "Adverse medical Incidents and their Outcomes" and
Gillian personally submitted ten proposals for change on behalf of
herself. She also included with her statement , in June 1999, the "Aims
& Objectives" of SIN for the consideration of the Health Service Committee
This is the tenth proposal Gillian personally submitted
a change in approach to Medical Negligence' this last point is perhaps
the most important. The tax-payer is funding a huge legal bill for Health
Authorities and Trusts to defend (often indefensible) medical negligence
claims, when money could and should be spent on patient care. Huge
legal bills are draining the NHS of essential reserves.
"The whole adversarial
legal battle of medical negligence to be abandoned. We accept that
doctors with the best will in the world will make mistakes. Some
of these can be serious. It is bad for a profession to be obliged to cover
up the suffering which is inadvertently caused. I I propose that a fund
is set up, part of it to come from the tax-payer, the other part to come
from the Medical Defence Unions. It may be necessary for patients
to take out a small compulsory annual insurance cover
" When a mistake occurs
the patient must be immediately informed. An apology must be made and the
patient reassured of the best medical care. This will maintain confidence
in the medical profession. The patient will then transfer to another doctor
who will be a able to be frank, indeed be able to comply with the GMC Guidelines.
He/she must not be obliged to cover for a colleague. The doctor
in question to be counselled, in a supportive environment. Many times it
is pure human error, sometimes something more serious may be wrong - more
training or reduction in work load or, occasionally, a doctor should be
disciplined. The damage done to the patient can easily be assessed by loss
insurers. Only then will it be time to bring in the lawyers.
" One couple who had had
a child damaged by negligence at birth took 14 years and a £140,000
mortgage before the child was granted compensation. No way for a civilised
country to behave. If the GP who had misdiagnosed me, and I believe she
was a good GP, could have said to me: " I've got this one wrong, Mrs Bean,
I am so sorry. I suggest you transfer to another GP and I assure you we
shall do everything possible for you. There has been some damage, but that
will be assessed and then it will be time for you to bring in a legal adviser
and your own loss adjuster". How much better that would have been .. She
could have gone on a course (which I believe she did) I could have
relaxed without all the psychological strain and physical stress
of the last few years ,which have ruined my life. What did I do wrong?
Nothing! I was just an innocent victim of a human error.
" The expert witness at
the end of the television programme (about the above child) said:
are not as good as we should like to be. We are not as good as you think
we are. We make mistakes, sometimes damage occurs. If there is damage then
let compensation be paid!"
In July 1999 the above proposal was added to SIN's "Aims & Objectives"
Surely this is
the light at the end of the tunnel? The present situation is very unhealthy
both for patients and doctors and for all those who participate in what
is a national scandal of cover-up".
here if you wish to read the other 9 proposals submitted by Gillian.
extracts from the statement:
WHAT A GREAT FIRST
BIRTHDAY PRESENT FOR SIN'S WEB SITE!!!:
ON 10TH JULY 2001 THE
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH NEWS DESK WEB SITE ANNOUNCED :
CLINICAL COMPENSATION SCHEME FOR NHS
slow and bureaucratic system of clinical negligence compensation in the
NHS is set for a major overhaul.
Chief Medical Officer, Liam Donaldson, will lead a new committee to look
at ways of making the system faster and fairer ......The committee will
consult on the proposals with interested parties so that a White Paper,
setting out the Government's reform programme, can be published early next
following ideas will be explored:
Health Secretary Alan Milburn
fault compensation - which may save time and costs in achieving settlements.
This system would encourage a more open system by not blaming staff.
settlements - instead of a lump sum, patients would receive periodic payments
based on their future needs, including nursing care or other treatment
this is already supplied to those patients who are in need of assistance?)
tariff schemes for specific injuries.
- greater use of mediation for resolving disputes
reform of clinical negligence is long overdue. The current system does
not work either for the NHS patients or for NHS staff...very often it ends
up paying more out in legal fees than in damages for patients. It
undermines our reforms to make the NHS more open when things go wrong.
Where staff fear being dragged through the courts, mistakes are hidden
and cover-ups occur *(sic) .We have to find a fairer and faster
way of compensating people and our reforms will help end the ** blame
and compensation cultures which threaten to undermine the efforts of NHS
staff to improve care for patients.".
acknowledges that cover-ups are happening in the NHS! Cover-ups are
wicked and cruel! When a cover-up occurs a sticky web of deceit and
lies is woven out of necessity. If the cover-up is
to be maintained:miseading statements are issued to confuse the patient
and the falsification of medical records and test results can occur.
What happens to the patient who is a victim of a cover-up ? They
become enmeshed in this sticky web and are unable to find the truth about
their medical condition and, in the most serious cases, are deprived of
genuine medical care, because to give the medical care would be to disclose
the damage which had occurred, which would possibly expose
colleagues to charges of negligence or worse, and would also
give the patient information which could be useful in pursuing a successful
court case. At the risk of being repetitious: no patient wants to go to
court and in fact few can afford it, and even fewer win, because of the
"rigged" judiciary system. [see Lord Woolf's lecture]. PATIENTS &
THEIR RELATIVES DEMAND TRUTH & JUSTICE AND DAMAGED PATIENTS
utterly refutes this notion of a "blame and compensation culture". It is,
we believe an insult to the suffering of many thousands who die and
are permanently damaged by medical mistakes every year in the UK. There
has been precious little blame ( accountability) and only a very small
amount of compensation received by damaged patients.What are relatives
and patients expected to do? Medics certainly do not rush around telling
everyone what has happened! This reform should help to bring in an honest
and open culture, which is long overdue.
this new initiative
here to read the letter which SIN submitted to the Chief Medical Office,
Prof. Liam Donaldson re: Victim's compensation fund
other nine proposals Gillian submitted to the Health Select Committee.
A patient a right to check and to have a copy of the consultation notes
immediately after the consultation, thus making it difficult for doctors
to change records and most importantly avoid inaccurate information from
being propagated. This would certainly have prevented my misdiagnosis.
It is the altering of records which is one of the most traumatic
experiences that a damaged patient has to suffer. [Added
to SIN's "Aims & Objectives in July 1999}
Junior doctors are over worked and under trained. It is suggested that
Consultants take on more structured teaching and contact time with
junior doctors.[Added to SIN's Aims &
Objectives July 1999]
To reduce the number of potential mistakes a review of the syllabuses in
Medical Schools to ensure that time is not spent on learning out of date
procedures and information.
A qualitative look at diagnostic skills of our doctors. Perhaps a regular
re-appraisal every few years when an obligatory course at a medical school
where doctors are given patients and videoed during consultations. Part
of the re-validation programme.
Standard computer diagnostic programmes might be useful in all surgeries.
At least it would give very patient in he UK the same base. Nothing to
stop the doctor from using his/her own additional intuition and expertise.
A computer programme would not have missed my diagnosis.
this will not go down well with the legal and the medical professions;
medical experts are mostly redundant. Medicine is not an art, it is a 95%
science. The hospital where the mistake took place is well able to
make an accurate assessment as to the damage and its cause.[
Added to SIN's "Aims & Objectoives July 1999]
Doctors and managers must treat patients as human beings and not as numbers.
The GMC code of ethics to be enforced.
Whistle blowers to be given protection. Doctors are still fearful of career
to SIN's "Aims & Objectives" July 1999]
FOR THE PERSONAL
Prof. Liam Donaldson,
Chief Medical Officer,
Department of Health, Richmond
London. SW1A 2NS
8th August, 2001.
Dear Prof. Donaldson,
Re: Compensation Fund for
Victims of Medical Errors Under Consideration
S.I.N., Sufferers of Iatrogenic
Neglect, is a patient support organisation that has been set up for the
patient who has been subjected to a medical error and has suffered serious
damage. We noted with great interest the recent reports in the media that
the Department of Health is considering setting up a Compensation Fund
for the victims of medical errors.(News Desk, Department of Health, 10th
For the last two and a half
years S.I.N. has been fighting for the setting up of a Victims’ Compensation
Fund similar to the one described. To quote from our “Aims & Objectives”:
"A review of the huge
medical litigation bill currently running at £2.8bill. per year(now
est.£4bill). A new approach to iatrogenic damage is imperative. SIN
suggests a victim's compensation fund is set up. Part paid by the tax-payer
and part by the Medical Insurance Companies. If damage has occurred, the
patient is informed and an assessment of damage made. In parallel an investigation
is carried out to determine the cause of the mistake and to establish accountability.
This would relieve the patient
from embarking on a long, costly and difficult legal battle when the only
certain winners are the lawyers.
The setting up of such a
scheme would have the great advantage of reducing the huge and escalating
NHS legal bill and, perhaps, just as importantly, it would allow doctors
to admit that a mistake has been made, and to tell patients the truth.
At the moment it is often difficult for a doctor to do this because of
legal considerations, and patients of medical errors often find themselves
in a battle to discover the truth about their medical condition which,
in certain cases, can hamper their medical care.
We understand that as Chief
Medical Officer you are setting up a new committee to look at ways of making
the system work better and faster for both patients and health professionals
and to explore the implications of setting up such a Victims’ Compensation
Fund. This is in preparation for the publication of a White Paper on this
issue, early next year. Sin has welcomed the many initiatives set up by
the Labour Government over the last twelve months in order to improve the
standards in the NHS and to give further protection to the patient. Sin
and its members have also noted that the present ethos of the Department
of Health is to encourage greater participation of patients in the health
care process, thereby empowering the patient.
It is with this in mind that
we, the undersigned, Co-Directors of SIN, put our names forward to be considered
for inclusion in the new committee which is to be formed to discuss the
proposed Victims’ Compensation Fund. After all, it would seem most appropriate,
if not absolutely essential, to hear directly from the patients who have
been subjected to medical errors and their representatives. You may remember
that we took the opportunity to speak with you at several BMA/BMJ Conferences.
We look forward to a positive
Co-Directors & Founder
Members SIN : GM Bean & M. MacRae
We received the customary
acknowledgement within two days, but by 1st. October we had received no