It’s no secret; the NHS is in a pretty dire state at the moment.
Staff numbers are scarily low – lower than they ever have been. As we head into the winter months, they’re predicted to plunge even further. And according to the Chief Executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, Dr Ron Daniels, it spells bad news for sepsis patients.
Whilst UK clinicians are fully aware of the seriousness (and urgency) of sepsis, in a recent survey, over two-thirds of doctors (68%) admitted they had missed cases of sepsis. And the most common reason for this was NHS staff shortages (76%), along with a high patient caseload (74%).
As bad as these figures may be, they’re only going to get worse.
Dr Daniels stated that, ‘It is inevitable that sepsis care will be compromised’. Due to the demand on their time – and general fatigue – staff are likely to find it increasingly difficult to spot the signs of sepsis. And are much less likely to follow the national sepsis guidance.
Ultimately, this could lead to a rise in both the number of sepsis negligence cases – and sadly, the number of patients who die from sepsis unnecessarily.
Concerned about the sepsis care you have received?
As leading medical negligence solicitors, we have excellent knowledge and experience in sepsis claims. If you believe you’ve been affected by the current NHS staffing crisis, this is our practical advice and guidance on the steps to take.
Be sepsis savvy
Most people don’t know a lot about the condition or how dangerous it can be. But with sepsis, awareness can save lives. If you’re concerned about an infection or notice any of the main symptoms of sepsis, in yourself or someone else, either call 999 or go to A&E as soon as possible.
Don’t worry about staff shortages or whether you’d be wasting anyone’s time. It’s crucial that you get checked. And at the first opportunity, ask a member of staff ‘Could it be sepsis?’.
More information on the signs and symptoms of sepsis can be found in this leaflet.
Talk to the staff
Sepsis can occur rapidly and, when there’s a lot going on in the hospital and the staff are using complex medical terms, it’s completely normal to feel confused about what’s happening and why.
If you’re unhappy with the sepsis care received – or you feel there’s an issue with the overall healthcare provided – start by talking to the consultant in charge. This is particularly important if your priority is to have something urgently put right. Ask as many questions as necessary and make your concerns known.
You can also contact the Support Team at the UK Sepsis Trust for advice.
Make a complaint
If you’re still not satisfied – and suspect that sepsis negligence may have occurred – the next step is to contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) and ask them to investigate the case.
PALS is a point of contact for patients, their families and carers, who can offer confidential advice and support on all health-related matters. They will attempt to resolve your issue informally first. But if this isn’t successful, they can then provide information on the NHS’ complaints procedure, how to get independent help (e.g. from a medical negligence solicitor) and signpost helpful support groups.
It’s always best to make a complaint in writing or by email.
The Action Against Medical Accidents website has a few example complaint letters, which demonstrate what you need to include. Simply explain in your own words who and what you’re complaining about, the result you’re hoping for and whether you want an independent review.
There will then be an investigation into your case, and you’ll receive a full written response.
All hospitals – and other health organisations – have a legal duty to be open and honest with their patients. This is known as their ‘duty of candour’. So if something has gone wrong, and NHS staff shortages caused you any sort of avoidable harm, by law this will need to be disclosed.
Seek legal advice
Whilst your complaint investigation is in progress, there’s nothing to stop you from seeking the help of a specialist sepsis negligence solicitor – such as Injury Lawyers Direct – at the same time. In fact, it’s highly recommended.
Like most patients, you may be unsure whether or not an act of negligence occurred. But with a team of medical negligence lawyers, consultant insurers, barristers, and medical experts at our disposal, we have a wealth of expertise in this area. And can offer impartial advice on whether you’re eligible to make a sepsis claim – and the likelihood of that claim being successful.
Of course, claiming can’t turn back time or restore your health. But financially, it can be a massive help.
The aim of compensation is to put you back in the same financial position as you were before negligence occurred. Money awarded can help to restore any lost earnings, fund private medical treatment, pay for care and assistance at home. Or if you’ve suffered an amputation, allow you to buy a high-quality prosthetic unavailable on the NHS.
Making a sepsis negligence claim is also an effective way to get answers (and an apology, if that’s what you’d like), and ensure lessons are learnt – that may help to protect other sepsis patients in the future.
Interested in making a sepsis claim?
Why not arrange a complimentary consultation with our medical negligence team?
If you’ve suffered due to sepsis negligence – whether it was caused by the NHS staffing crisis, long wait times, a delayed or misdiagnosis or any other form of medical mistake – we can help.
Following a quick chat about your case, and the impact it’s had on you and your family, we can advise on your eligibility. And if wish to go ahead, we’ll take care of the entire sepsis claims process on your behalf – from collating evidence to negotiating a settlement. Leaving you to focus on recovery.
The consultation is free of charge and has no obligations attached. Which means, there’s no pressure to continue with legal action. If you do decide to proceed, all work will be completed on a ‘no win no fee’ basis – allowing you to seek compensation with no financial risk to yourself.
So, where’s the harm in getting in touch?
Sepsis negligence is an incredibly serious matter and one that’s likely to escalate in the coming months. If you’ve been affected, it could be worth reviewing your options and seeking the justice you rightly deserve.