NHS Delay - When Does Clinical Negligence Arise?

The item which has dominated both local and national news since the New Year has been the shocking figures and stories of the massive NHS waiting lists.

It has always been the case that hospital waiting lists are under particular strain during winter however it appears that this problem is especially worse this year, indeed some hospitals are canceling all 'routine' surgery. It must be remembered that the term routine surgery does not indicate that the surgery is minor but can include some major non-emergency surgery such as transplants.

The question arises therefore as to when a delay can lead to clinical negligence. It must be proved that the delay or omission breached the duty of care to the patient and that the breach in turn caused an adverse affect or injury to the patient.

The length of the delay in leading to an injury can vary widely according to the condition. A delay of months in failing to diagnose cancer would almost certainly lead to a difference between the cancer being operable or to it metastasising and becoming terminal, whereas a delay of a few days is unlikely to make a difference to the outcome.

However in respect of birth injuries it could be a matter of minutes in failing to recognise a drop in oxygen levels that could lead to massive brain damage to a new born baby. In respect of waiting lists for surgery a claim could arise if the unreasonable delay leads to a difference in outcome. The difficulty is where 'unreasonable' leads to litigation.

If you feel that a delay in surgery has lead you to suffering further adverse affects please contact Fosters Solicitors on 01603 620508 or by email using the online enquiry form on our website.

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