NHS facing legal bill after hiring private firm
21st Aug 2014
The NHS is facing a legal issue after a private healthcare company hired to carry out eye operations has left many with serious problems.
Vanguard Healthcare was hired in May in an attempt to reduce a backlog of work at Musgrove Park hospital in Taunton, Somerset. However, the 400-operation contract was terminated after just four days and sixty two operations, due to complaints from half the patients operated on.
Many of the patients were elderly, and problems suffered included blurred vision, pain and swelling. The hospital noted at the time that this was an unusual figure, as normally such side effects only occur in one in every 400 people. Now, most are facing follow-up treatment to repair damage done during the initial operation.
The family of an 84 year old man who lost his sight completely wants a full independent inquiry launched into both the hospital and into Vanguard Healthcare. Several other patients have been in contact with lawyers to discuss the possibility of seeking compensation.
This now poses the question as to who would be responsible for paying compensation, Musgrove or Vanguard. Dr Colin Close, medical director at the hospital, was quoted as saying that any financial responsibility would rest with the hospital. However, the hospital now claims this was misquoted.
Others, such as Laurence Vick, head of clinical negligence at Michelmores Solicitors in Exeter and representing some of the affected patients, have pointed out that it seems unfair for the penalty to fall on the NHS, and not on Vanguard.
Guidance from the Judicial Studies Board suggests that claims for complete loss of sight in one eye can range from £27 000 to £30 000, while for ‘serious but incomplete’ loss of vision can be anywhere between £13 000 and £21 000.
Ian Gillespie, Vanguard Healthcare’s chief executive, noted that their number one priority was patient care, and that they are now investigating what caused the problem and whether it was due to human error or otherwise.