Posted on 16th September 2016
Under the principles of openness and transparency supposedly incorporated into NHS culture, an early admission of legal liability when things have gone badly wrong is always welcome, but what is wrong with making an apology at that stage as well?
A client of Hodge Jones and Allen had to wait just short of three years for a formal letter of apology from Medway NHS Trust, despite an early admission that her recently retired husband would not have died had the trust recognised his sepsis following a day case cholecystectomy and acted promptly to save his life.
If ever there was an appropriate moment for a sincere apology and offer of condolences that admission of liability might seem the right one, but apology was there none until unnecessarily protracted correspondence with the NHSLA ground to a halt and court proceedings were issued and served 29 months later. Only once the case was settled between lawyers was the formal letter of apology forthcoming: the apology was sincere and welcome, but was its late arrival an indication that it was somehow dependent on financial settlement between the parties? Something for Chief Executives to reflect on perhaps.
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