Police are considering bringing criminal proceedings following the shocking report from Robert Francis QC into the failings of the Staffordshire Hospital which might have led to the deaths of over 1000 patients –
This has led the Prime Minister to publicly apologise for the failings –
It is clear that those responsible should be made accountable. I am concerned, however, that certain individuals might be prosecuted for their failings, in a way that will mask institutional failings from the very top. Any potential criminal action cannot gloss over the need for a root and branch review of the NHS from funding, to management, to a culture of cover up. Criminal proceedings are difficult to bring and might not ultimately bring justice to the families who have lost loved ones.
I have written very recently about the tragic damage caused by medical blunders –
I would rather see a greater emphasis on achieving justice for those families. On the one hand we see huge amounts of money invested in an inquiry, possible criminal action and re-organization – all perfectly reasonable – but on the other hand, victims’ access to justice is being swept aside. If those victims try to seek justice they are vilified and accused of feeding a compensation culture. The right to state funded justice will shortly be removed. The right to use no win no fee agreements will shortly become far more difficult –
The proposed actions promised by the government are to be welcomed – we should never criticise any steps that avoid these tragedies happening in the first place. But if we truly want to secure justice we need to ensure that all victims have access to that justice regardless of wealth.