A GP or 'family doctor' is often the key contact at the start of any medical treatment. When things go wrong it can be daunting to bring a negligence claim against the person you trusted would be there to help you.
When you feel unwell, a GP is often the first person you see. We all rely on GPs to diagnose the condition and prescribe appropriate medication; refer us for appropriate investigations or refer us to a consultant. This system has been in place for 65 years: for most people, it works extremely well. GPs are by far the largest branch of medicine and they are one of the greatest strengths of the NHS. You may have a regular GP that knows you and your family history and is able to act quickly when you do not feel well. However, the vast majority of patients rarely get to see the same GP. If you are one of these patients, you will know that continuity of care is hard to obtain.
Why bring a claim?
When you experience a health condition or scare, it can be very distressing. For most people, the GP/family doctor helps enormously: offering support and ensuring you get the best possible care as quickly as possible.
Sadly, the above picture is not always the reality. GPs can sometimes fail to correctly diagnose a condition. They may delay or fail to refer you to a specialist or for investigations; or fail to prescribe the right medication. All of these failings can result in serious consequences both physically and financially for you and your family, not to mention the betrayal of trust you may feel.
One of the main medical defence insurers, the Medical Defence Union, has year on year reported an increase in the number of claims being pursued against their GP members. The General Medical Council reported in 2013 that claims against GPs had more than doubled in six years. It was also reported in late 2015 that GP surgeries were receiving large sums of money to not refer patients to hospital for scans or consultations with specialists. Whilst this was discouraged by the General Medical Council and the Royal College of GPs, at least nine of the NHS bodies responsible for the planning and commission of healthcare responding to a Freedom of Information request, confirmed they were offering such financial rewards. These additional pressures faced by GPs have resulted in numerous GP surgeries closing their lists to new patients. The stark reality is that GPs are fearful of being penalised if they are seen as too ready to refer patients. Reluctance to refer can result in avoidable harm, often with financial losses for the patient.
When Miss P's GP failed to perform regular blood tests and prescriptions reviews, she was negligently prescribed too high a dose of her inflammatory medication to treat her Crohn's disease. As a result, Miss P experienced temporary brittle bone disease putting her at high risk of fracture. She could not carry anything heavier than a pint of milk for six months, had to undergo extensive physiotherapy, adhere to a strict diet and delay starting a family for over a year. Michelmores' Caroline Webber-Brown secured Miss P £12,000.00 compensation.
At Michelmores, we commonly see cases where the GP has:
- failed to make the appropriate diagnosis
- failed to refer patients for cancer investigations
- failed to monitor chronic conditions appropriately such as kidney disease
- prescribed the wrong medication resulting in serious long term consequences
Can I bring a claim and stay at the same GP practice?
It is possible to bring a claim and remain at the same GP practice: you should not encounter any difficulties in your continuity of care.
Some patients feel too let down or uncomfortable to remain at the same GP practice and decide to change surgery.
Our team understands the devastating impact of such events. We are able to help you secure financial compensation for the suffering and distress you have experienced. We can also enable you to access further healthcare and cover your loss of earnings, easing your financial pressures.