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Clinical negligence claims following the COVID-19 pandemic

25 June 2020
Volume 29 · Issue 12


John Tingle, Lecturer in Law, Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham, discusses how the Courts may view clinical negligence claims brought by families who have lost loved ones during the pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the issue of clinical negligence claims being brought by those who have lost loved ones is being raised. Looking at the general media over the years, with repeated major NHS patient safety crises, high levels of clinical negligence claims and costs, there does seem to be a greater public awareness over compensation rights and to holding health professionals to account for their care treatment decisions. Given this heightened public awareness of the right to sue for clinical negligence, it is inevitable that in time people would consider taking legal action against the NHS for improper, negligent COVID-19 treatment. Robinson (2020) notes:

‘Grieving families of patients who have died after contracting coronavirus are exploring the possibility of taking the NHS to court, as unions warn litigation threats are piling added pressure on already stressed medics. At least 17 families whose loved ones have died during the COVID-19 pandemic are considering legal action against the NHS …’

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