Patient motivation to make a claim for clinical negligence

4th December 2018

Written by Sion Wynne, senior solicitor in the medical negligence department at Fletchers Solicitors

NHS Resolution recently published a report about research into the motivation of patients making legal claims for compensation in respect of clinical negligence.

It was prepared in response to observations made by the Public Accounts Committee that the NHS needed a better understanding of this.

The research found almost two thirds of respondents felt they were not given an explanation and less than one third  were given an apology.

The majority did not think that the healthcare provider had investigated initially and only a small number felt any actions were taken to prevent a similar incident happening again.

The majority rated the response, if they had made a complaint, as poor or very poor in terms of accuracy, empathy, speed and level of detail.

External and personal motivations were identified for considering pursuing a claim. The former include: being prompted by NHS staff or bodies to make a claim; advertising of ‘no win, no fee arrangements (but only a minority of interviewees stated that this was a direct influence); conversations with friends or family members, or colleagues at work and their reactions to the incident.

What were categorised as personal motivations included: preventing similar incidents happening to others; wanting an apology; getting a detailed explanation and investigation; holding clinicians to account; getting financial support to help cope with the future; frustration or anger with incident and/or complaint handling.

When seeking legal representation, people used known or previously used local solicitors or undertook internet searches. They reported the claims process was easy to proceed with once initiated.

The report concluded that research participants were, in general, not satisfied with the reactions of NHS staff following their incident or how their complaint was handled within the NHS.

There were personal motivations for making a claim, and external factors which prompted or even triggered, individuals to pursue a claim.

You can read the full report here: Behavioural insights into patient motivation to make a claim for clinical negligence

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