skip to main content

27 February 2017

Patient safety put at risk by “colossal” NHS failure

The Guardian today reported that thousands of patients are feared to have been harmed after the NHS Shared Business Services lost more than half a million pieces of confidential medical correspondence, including test results, treatment plans and concerning child protection issues.

A multi-million pound investigation by the NHS has reportedly uncovered that correspondence failed to reach 7,700 GP surgeries because, between 2011 and 2014, the private company meant to ensure their delivery mistakenly sent the letters for storage to a warehouse.

Some 500,000 of the documents lost are understood to have been clinically important.

The British Medical Association has highlighted persistent failures with the outsourcing of such NHS services to private companies and highlighted ongoing problems with the delivery of important correspondence to GPs – despite the government re-assigning the contract for delivery of such documents to another company. The BMA has said that the delivery of post continues to be significantly inadequate.

As a result of failures to deliver information to GPs, the BMA has warned that some patients might have taken extra drugs unnecessarily or had the diagnosis of their illness.

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, described the situation as “an absolute scandal” and said:

“Patient safety will have been put seriously at risk as a result of this staggering incompetence.

Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said:

“This is a staggering loss of personal and private data, this colossal loss of vital material that may have been absolutely crucial to a patient’s treatment. I worry that while all this correspondence, including test results, has gathered dust, patients had been put at risk. People could have died as a result of this.”

Alison Ainsley, APIL Senior Litigator and Director of Longden Walker and Renney is an expert in seeking compensation for those who have suffered injury as a result of unacceptable medical delays. She is a member of the Law Society’s Clinical Negligence Specialist Panel and routinely works on complex, high value Claims.  She said:

“It is important that patients receive prompt diagnosis and competent treatment.  It is crucial that medical professionals are provided with the results of tests and investigations within a reasonable timeframe.  

Delayed diagnosis can have serious implications and the consequences for a patient and their family can be devastating.”

If you have any reason to believe that you have suffered injury as a result of an unacceptably delayed diagnosis or treatment, do not hesitate to contact Longden Walker and Renney for legal advice.  

You may be entitled to financial support in the form of compensation, which may help you and your family cope with the effects of any injury that you have suffered.

You can call us on 0191 566 6 500 to speak with one of our specialists or you can contact us by email or via our enquiry form and we will get in touch with you.