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Criminal charges for NHS staff

Following Jeremy Hunt’s promise to try to save 6,000 lives in the next three years by halving the number of mistakes that happen in the NHS, new criminal charges of wilful neglect have been made law. As a result, any doctor or nurse who is found guilty could face a prison sentence.
However, the British Medical Association (BMA) suggests that this new legislation may produce a climate of fear in the NHS and lead to fewer people feeling able to speak out against their colleagues for fear that those colleagues might be sent to jail.
The serious reports that emerged from the Mid Staffordshire Trust scandal have prompted the government to take action. And because there is existing legislation for wilful neglect in the Mental Capacity Act, this is not such a big leap.
Consultations are being conducted on what sentences should be applied to anyone convicted of wilful neglect. It is hoped that this new legislation will go hand in hand with a new culture of an open, responsible and transparent NHS.
However, this legislation does not address the issue of staffing levels and funding for the NHS, and the impact of these on patient care.
Mistakes are made, but the fear of prosecution and the possibility of a jail term could deter doctors and nurses from admitting to their mistakes, which will restrict the NHS from learning from them.
If you or a family member have suffered as a patient in the NHS, it is important to discuss your situation with a medical negligence solicitor who can offer you advice on whether you can make a compensation claim.

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