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Medical negligence during Covid-19 pandemic

We are all aware of the pressures the NHS faced during the coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic. However, medical professionals are not exempt from medical negligence claims which may have arisen during this time.

Whilst we are unable to act for individuals in relation to claims directly relating to contracting coronavirus itself or deaths caused by the virus, we are still able to act for people who suffered a delay in diagnosis or misdiagnosis of other conditions, and other forms of medical negligence during the pandemic.


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Medical negligence during the pandemic

The pandemic turned life as we knew it on its head and we all had to adapt. We have great admiration for the National Health Service and those working in the medical profession who worked and continue to work tirelessly to treat patients who contract the virus.

At the height of the pandemic, many people who would have ordinarily attended hospital or sought advice from their GP about medical conditions resisted doing so. Whether that be out of fear of attending a hospital and risking contracting the virus or not to add to the burden of the NHS.

However, when people did seek medical treatment for other issues, they should have been able to expect the same standard of care they would have done prior to the pandemic. A misdiagnosis of a condition cannot be excused because the country was dealing with coronavirus.

At Stephensons, we have been assisting victims and families involved in medical accidents for many decades and are specialists in identifying cases which are negligent. If you have suffered due to a medical mistake, a delay in diagnosis of a condition or poor treatment then you should have the freedom to choose whether to investigate a claim.

It is important to understand that the compensation paid out in such claims does not come from the same “pot” which funds medical treatment, research or pays for the salaries of the medical professionals.

Why doesn’t Stephensons deal with coronavirus claims?

It is difficult for a number of reasons to establish a claim of medical negligence in relation to coronavirus. Most personal injury and clinical negligence cases are funded by way of a no win no fee agreement and these are usually accompanied by an insurance policy known as an 'after the event policy'. Some insurers have made the decision not to insure covid-19 cases and therefore it is often difficult to secure funding to start an investigation.

Should I avoid seeking medical treatment whilst the coronavirus is still around?

No. If you need medical attention then it is imperative that you seek advice. It is important to know that there are many different ways in which you can receive advice, depending on the severity of your condition. This could come from pharmacists, General Practitioners, NHS 111, NHS website, walk in centres or A&E. The NHS website provides useful guidance.

Have there been any changes to pursing a claim for clinical negligence due to the pandemic?

The usual time limits in which to bring a claim (three years from the date of the negligence or three years from the date of knowledge) still apply.

One of the impacts that the pandemic may have on your case could relate to financial losses. Your solicitor will need to investigate whether your financial losses, or need for care, would have been impacted due to the strict restrictions which were imposed during the lockdown which came into effect on 16th March 2020.

For example, you may have suffered from medical negligence in February 2020 and would usually seek to recover your lost earnings and need for care and assistance. However, due to the lockdown, you may not have been able to work in any event. Also, as there were restrictions on who could enter your home, you may not have been able to have people providing you with help.

Many people were also “shielding” depending on their medical condition and may have been restricted due to being on the shielding list in any event.

What should I do if I wish to bring a claim against a doctor or health professional?

It is important that you seek advice from a specialist clinical negligence solicitor.  Not only do specialists, like Stephensons, have a longstanding history of successfully assisting clients who have suffered medical accidents, we are also mindful of the potential impact the investigations can have on the NHS. We thoroughly risk assess cases with the assistance of our in house medical experts and only pursue claims with the NHS when there is sufficient merit to do so. We are also a party to the Covid-19 Clinical Negligence Protocol so can work collaboratively with the NHS to bring your case to a conclusion.

If you or a family member have a clinical negligence enquiry then please contact us on 0161 696 6165 and speak to an expert medical negligence solicitor today. Alternatively you can complete our online contact form and a member of the team will contact you directly. 

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