As the long awaited report into the activities of Mid Staffordshire Hospitals NHS Trust is published today, numerous recommendations are made in an attempt to ensure that other families and patients do not experience the substandard care that was commonplace for those attending Stafford General Hospital.

The culture of management that existed at the time was very much target driven in seeking to achieve Foundation NHS Trust status, as opposed to one that adopted practices aimed at improving patient care.

Management became excessively focussed on achieving Government set targets and in their drive to achieve these targets, whistleblowers were ignored when the impact on patient services was highlighted.  This led to a prolonged period of substandard care causing increased physical and psychological pain and suffering and even, in some cases, deaths for many patients.

The blinkered approach in seeking to achieve targets (which were often financial) backfired significantly with adverse consequences for those in the Mid Staffordshire area.  There have been cuts in services, including in Accident & Emergency Department opening times and staffing levels.  Scores of claims for compensation for negligent treatment and breach of human rights have been pursued.  Inquests have been undertaken on a far larger scale than would normally have been the case for other hospitals within the same period of time and all of this has increased the financial exposure of Mid Staffordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, the opposite of what the management wished to achieve.

Although changes to the management structure and personnel have been made since the problems came to light, the consequences of the actions and decisions of those in post at the relevant time will have a long term impact on those seeking treatment from Mid Staffordshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

We hope that the NHS will learn from the events that took place in Stafford and from the recommendations made in the inquiry report published on 6 February 2013 but only time will tell.

This firm has members of the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel of Solicitors and also members of the Action for Victims of Medical Accidents (AvMA) Panel of Solicitors and is able to progress matters with the benefit of public funding (Legal Aid) or by way of Conditional Fee Agreements or other funding arrangements.  There are Government proposals to withdraw entitlement to Legal Aid for most clinical negligence cases which come into force at the beginning of April 2013 and so it is advisable to seek the benefit of Legal Aid through specialist solicitors such as Anthony Collins Solicitors at this stage.

For more information

If you have concerns about issues that were the subject matter of the inquiry and you need legal advice, please contact Tony Hall, a specialist clinical negligence lawyer at Anthony Collins Solicitors on 0121 212 7476 or tony.hall@anthonycollins.com.

Contract management pitfalls – payment
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In the second part of our series on contract management pitfalls, we look at the risks and opportunities presented by payment mechanisms in construction contracts.