article about Dr Brian Fisher, a former A & E consultant at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, who has spoken to the BBC about having written to senior management at the hospital about the pressures he faced at work." />

Clinical Negligence is not the same as poor customer service

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Dr Fisher, who took early retirement at the age of 56, explains in the article about how stressful it was to work at the hospital. I think we can all appreciate just how difficult it must sometimes be for hospital staff, working long shifts in hospitals which are very often overcrowded and understaffed.

As a clinical negligence solicitor I frequently speak to potential new clients and advise them as to whether or not they have grounds for making a claim. Very often their complaints relate to a general dissatisfaction with the care they were provided; perhaps the staff were rude, or perhaps they waited a long time to be seen.

As unfair as it may seem,  bearing in mind the difficult conditions in which they sometimes work, even overworked hospital staff have a duty to provide an appropriate standard of care to their patients. Whether the care provided (or lack of) then constitutes grounds for pursuing a clinical negligence claim depends not only on there having been a 'breach of duty' (i.e. substandard care) but whether that breach caused significant additional injury which would not otherwise have occurred. This is very often where a potential claim fails; whilst no one would wish for example to be treated by rude staff, this would not cause additional injury and so would generally not form the basis of a clinical negligence claim.

Joanna Catterall 
Clinical Negligence team 

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