An explanation about a medical accident, and the lack of an apology, made up 45% of inquiries to AvMA in 2022

Published: 23 Jan 2023

23 January 2023, London

In 2022 AvMA received 419 written requests for advice and assistance from UK patients. In 45% of those cases, the inquiry was about the lack of an explanation when a medical accident had occurred and how to secure an investigation and an apology.

At the same time, AvMA took just over 2,000 calls to its helpline in 2022, and the top five most inquired services were:
·       General Practitioners (GPs);
·       Dentistry;
·       Orthopaedics;
·       Mental health; and
·       Accident and Emergency (A&E) services

This level of inquiry to the helpline was generally consistent with 2021, as were the top inquired services.

Paul Whiteing, Chief Executive of Accidents against Medical Accidents (AvMA), said: “It is disappointing that basic signposting around how to make a complaint and the process itself is lacking such clear communication. Even when we have supported a patient in making a complaint, they often come back to us concerned that the NHS response they received does not address their concerns or is difficult to understand. It is, therefore, unsurprising that patients can feel there is a lack of openness, honesty and willingness to admit when mistakes have been made.

This feels like an own goal given that many of these patients then litigate, much of which could have been avoided had those early interactions with the healthcare provider been managed openly and honestly. The Government is committed to reducing the cost of NHS litigation. One big way to do so would be better healthcare training around the practicalities of the duty of candour, combined with better advocacy to support patients and their loved ones with getting answers and apologies sooner from healthcare providers.”