The Patients Association was founded in 1963 and continues to listen to patients and speak up for change.

Issue 143

Keeping you informed about the latest developments in Health & Social Care

Misdiagnosis leads to death of 10 year old boy

The family of a 10-year-old boy who died after he was misdiagnosed by an ambulance crew claim they have been subjected to a second ordeal by the “callousness” and “in­humanity” of the NHS complaints system.

Charlie Burns died from an epileptic fit in October 2011, four days after a first seizure was dismissed by paramedics as febrile convulsions, despite him not having had a fever. Furthermore, the paramedics declined to take him to hospital and suggested giving him Calpol; a decision questioned by his parents.

Charlie Burns’ family believe the lack of compassion and care by various NHS organisations served to compound their grief rather than alleviate it. Moreover, the family appealed to the health service ombudsman, Dame Julie Mellor. However, Mellor’s office ruled it could not investigate because one of the paramedics in question was facing a hearing at the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said:

“Hundreds of bereaved families who have lost a loved one through NHS error are treated inhumanely and callously by the NHS. Furthermore, The Health Service Ombudsman should be a ‘court’ of last resort where uncorrected mistakes by the NHS can finally be put right, but the process is not fit for purpose and often ends up compounding the grief of families.”
Primay Care Survey

In response. we have put together a multiple choice survey which you can find the link to here !

We would be grateful if you could complete the survey before the 1st of September

About Us
The Patients Association’s motto is ‘Listening to Patients, Speaking up for Change’. This motto is the basis on which we build all our campaigns. Via our Helpline, we capture stories about Healthcare from over thousands of patients, family members and carers every year. We use this knowledge to campaign for real improvements to health and social care services across the UK.

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Psoriasis Awareness

Doctors failure to diagnose patients appropriately costs the NHS £4m a week

Doctors are costing the NHS £4million every week in compensation claims to misdiagnosed patients

Statistics show the NHS was forced to pay £194m to 1,302 different people last year, with some families having received as much as £5m each where misdiagnosis led to death or the patient requiring round-the-clock care. However, the actual NHS bill is estimated to be far bigger as the figures do not factor in the substantial fees incurred by lawyers, with some firms receiving 20 times the amount paid to patients.

Furthermore, roughly 10% of the pay-outs have been for people whose doctors failed to spot their cancer. The research sheds further light on the state of cancer care on the NHS. Survival rates for the illness in the UK are considerably lower than elsewhere in Europe, as confirmed earlier last month in the report comparing performance across high-income countries by the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation, Focus on: international comparisons of healthcare quality.

Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association said today:

“Patient safety is being seriously compromised. We at the Patients Association urge the Government to overhaul safety in the National Health Service.”


Scandal of London's hospital bosses has revealed 60 NHS chiefs earn more than the Prime Minister

More than 60 London hospital are earning more than the Prime Minister, including one who receives £200,000 a year more than Mr Cameron.

Figures revealed by an Evening Standard analysis of hospital annual accounts has found that more than 60 London hospital chiefs are being paid more than the Prime Minister, despite some of them racking up record levels of NHS debt.
Bart’s Health NHS Trust’s chief financial officer, Mark Ogden has seen his pay package top £280,000 for the year, despite the Trust incurring the biggest debt in NHS history, while Tracey Batten chief executive of Imperial College Healthcare is currently the best paid NHS executive in London receiving £200,000 more a year than Mr Cameron with £342,500 a year.

Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association said today:

“The figures are very worrying when waiting times for operations, including hip, knees and cataracts were on the rise at many hospitals. Let’s hope they can sleep comfortably in their beds at night, knowing that they are providing the very best and safest care to their patients.
It really worries us at the Patients Association when you know some of these hospitals are struggling and carry huge vacancies within the nursing profession that some senior managers are paid such a high salary, especially knowing that there are many parts of their institutions that are falling below the standards of care that patients deserve and expect.”


Mental health spending in Manchester could be slashed by 1.5 million next year

Mental health spending across Manchester could be slashed by £1.5m next year, despite Central Manchester currently incurring the longest wait for mental health services in the country at just over 104 days.

The issue within Manchester is a microcosm of mental health spending reductions throughout the country, with £35m cut from child and adolescent mental health services since 2013/14, contributing towards a total of £85m cuts since 2010.

The Patients Association frequently deals with those who have mental illness, and they make up a significant percentage of the calls that we receive. It is unacceptable that mental illness is still not given the same level of compassion and recognition as physical illness, and this latest statistic should be treated as a “wake-up call”.


Complaints about cancelled and delayed NHS appointments soar in one year

Complaints about cancelled and delayed NHS appointments have risen to 10,800 in a year, new figures show.

New figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre show that the number of patients complaining about cancelled and delayed NHS appointments has risen by one fifth in a year.

Official data shows the number of patients raising concerns about outpatient appointments has risen from 9,040 in 2013/14 to 10,800 in 2014/15. Furthermore, statistics have revealed that there were 205,000 written complaints about NHS services in England in 2014/15; 562 per day.

These new figures do not include those who wish to complain, which is estimated to be near one million.

The Patients Association reiterates that complaints are an incredibly important source of learning for the NHS and a way through which it can improve its services for patients. These findings imply that patients have felt let down by the complaints process; there is a real need for an effective and clear complaints procedure which can benefit all patients. It is essential that NHS organisations listen to people when they say they are unhappy with their service and deal effectively and fairly with their complaint to ensure trust in the healthcare system remains high.

A Patient's Story


Ms F underwent a procedure (Arthroscopy) at a hospital. 8 days following discharge from the hospital Ms F was feeling very unwell; her knee was very swollen and red and she believed there was something very wrong after her surgery.  Ms F had to go to another hospital – the previous one did not have an Accident and Emergency Department.

Ms F says the doctor in A&E did an x-ray and said it was ok, but her white cell count was starting to rise which indicated an infection and the need for treatment.  Ms F says the Doctor was reluctant to provide treatment without her first being seen by an Orthopaedic consultant. The doctor requested that the Orthopaedic come to see him but he declined stating he was too busy in theatre.

Ms F was sent home but the following day she was unable to walk.  On the Monday she went to her GP surgery and the GP sent her back to the hospital where she was admitted, put on antibiotics and had to have further surgical treatment.  Ms F says she developed septic arthritis after the procedure on her knee and had to have some invasive surgery which may have been unnecessary if she had received the right treatment from the outset.

She had to take up to one year off work and has been told she will eventually need to have a knee replacement.
Ms F said she was in a lot of pain and she asked on numerous occasions for pain relief, but she had to wait for a very long time as the nurses were extremely busy.
Ms F says she sent a written letter of complaint to the hospital’s Patient Advice Liaison Service who said it would be dealt with, but received no further response.

This Patient contacted our helpline this week and is currently receiving advice from us.
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