The Francis report – will it produce an increased number of medical negligence claims?

Following last month’s publication of the report by Robert Francis QC into Stafford Hospital, and in particular the quality of care that took place between 2005 and 2009, there has been much debate about the likely increase in the number of medical negligence claims.

A number of healthcare professionals and medical negligence solicitors have suggested that Francis report may well mark a watershed – by bringing the reality of life for patients at some underperforming NHS hospitals into the light, and taking the first step in removing the whistle blowing culture that is all too prevalent within our healthcare system.

The Francis report ascertained that Stafford hospital had seen a minimum of 1200 deaths of patients – and that this was down to poor standards of care and management at the hospital.

Our medical negligence team have noted for a number of years that people are somewhat reluctant to consider a the NHS – in contrast to other types of accident claims – such as road traffic accidents, where there is much less reluctance in suing for compensation, where the paying party is just a faceless insurance company.

We’ll have to wait and see – but the shocking findings of this public enquiry may well produce greater public awareness and a significant increase in the number of victims of medical negligence who come forward.

It’s only too early to tell – as yet there’s been no noticeable spike following the report, but there has been a steady rise in medical negligence claims against the NHS over the last few years.