AvMA’s Timeline

Established in 1982 following public reaction to the television play Minor Complications, we have provided advice and support to many thousands of people affected by avoidable harm in healthcare and succeeded in bringing about massive changes to the way that the legal system deals with clinical negligence and in moving patient safety higher up the agenda in the UK.

Though we have had many significant achievements, the need for our work remains as great as ever. We help over 3,000 people every year with advice and support and we continue to fight to preserve access to justice for victims of clinical negligence and for better patient safety.

AvMA timeline

Over 40 years promoting patient safety and justice – key milestones

1982 – Playwright Peter Ransley founded AvMA after his BBC drama ‘Minor Complications’ caused public outcry. Arnold Simanowitz (now Arnold Simanowitz OBE) AvMA’s first Chief Executive

1983 – AvMA begins to campaign to improve expertise in clinical negligence cases and initiates the first solicitor referral programme (pre-cursor to AvMA’s solicitors’ panel

1984 – AvMA employs its first advice case worker

1987 – AvMA case work team dealing with 5,000 cases per annum

1989 – AvMA holds the first of the now annual Clinical Negligence Conferences, bringing together leaders in clinical negligence law

1990 – AvMA launches its Medical Legal Journal still published today as part of Clinical Risk

1994 – AvMA, supported by Kings Fund, establishes self-help network for victims of medical accidents

1995 – AvMA successfully campaigns against abolition of legal aid for clinical negligence cases

1996 – After lobbying by AvMA, a new NHS complaints procedure introduced

1999 – Government agrees to retain legal aid for clinical negligence cases

2001 – After campaigning by AvMA, Commission for Health Improvement (now CQC) and the National Patient Safety Agency established

2003 – Peter Walsh joins as new Chief Executive. AvMA rebranded as Action against Medical Accidents – the charity for patient safety and justice

2007 – Number of people helped by AvMA services tops 100,000

2009 – AvMA launches the Inquest Support Service to support families at healthcare related inquests to generate lessons for patient safety

2010 – AvMA a ‘core participant’ in the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry – 90% of our suggestions taken up by Francis

2011 – AvMA leads campaign for access to justice for clinical negligence cases in light of Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill

2014 – AvMA’s long campaign for a Duty of Candour leads to implementation in England, followed by plans to introduce in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

2017 – AvMA speaks up for patient safety and justice in wake of ‘safe space’ and ‘fixed costs’ proposals

2018 – AvMA successfully campaigns against the imposition of the ‘Safe Space’ prohibition of sharing information from local investigations of patient safety incidents

2019 – AvMA leads campaign against a crude ‘fixed recoverable costs’ approach in clinical negligence claims

2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic strikes. AvMA manages to keep all services for clients running and campaigns for more to be done to avoid harm to non-covid patients as a result of closure of services. However, the Annual Clinical Negligence Conference has to be abandoned for the first time as well as other face to face conferences, costing AvMA over £250,000

2021 – AvMA launches the campaign for a ‘Harmed Patient Care Pathway’ with the Harmed Patients Alliance, defining a ‘duty of care’ towards harmed patients and their families and the specific kinds of support they should be entitled to expect