Posted On / 15.09.2016

When Does a Delay Make a Claim?

The Telegraph has recently quoted a report by the Patients Association which reports worsening waiting times in the NHS. Click here to read more.   

Delays are not uncommon in our overstretched NHS but not all delays will give rise to a successful legal claim.   Central to the issue is what consequences and impacts on health that delay causes.  



For example delays beyond normal waiting times for elective operations or for review in Accident & Emergency may not have a substantial effect on the medical condition, but a delay in referral for cancer screening can have disastrous effects.  

In analysing whether a claim exists, identifying whether it was a negligent delay or just an unavoidable waiting time is important. This is determined by looking at the apparent symptoms and considering the usual waiting times.    

It is then necessary to identify what has happened to the patient in the period of extra delay, ie what happened during that delay: did things worsen significantly/did those changes mean that different or more invasive treatments were required?    

Many cases involve a delay in referral from primary service (a GP) to secondary service (usually a Hospital Trust). To establish if a claim exists, it is necessary to the review of the history of the complaint, the frequency of visits to the GP and the actions taken by the GP during that period. Only then can it be established if there was undue or negligent delay, and a claim will still only follow if that delay resulted in a serious deterioration in the condition.

If you or someone you know has suffered clinical negligence, contact Victoria Knight on 01935 846131 or  to see if we can help. Click here to visit our Clinical and Medical Negligence page.

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