The Daily Telegraph

No payouts for NHS receptioni­st blunders


THE public cannot sue the NHS over errors made by receptioni­sts because it would “open the floodgates” to compensati­on claims, judges have ruled.

An assault victim sued for damages after he was given wrong informatio­n on waiting times at Mayday Hospital in Croydon, south London.

After “some harsh words were spoken”, Michael Darnley decided to head home after the receptioni­st told him he would have to wait up to five hours. In fact, had he waited, a triage nurse would have seen him within half an hour, London’s Court of Appeal heard.

Just an hour later, Mr Darnley was rushed back to the hospital by ambulance after suffering a catastroph­ic bleed on the brain.

He was left partially paralysed after neurosurge­ry and sued Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, claiming the receptioni­st was negligent. But, in a landmark ruling, Lord Justice Jackson decided that the receptioni­st could not be blamed.

Observing that A&E department­s are “not always havens of tranquilli­ty”, he said victory for Mr Darnley would open the floodgates to other claims.

Disputes about “who said what to whom” in casualty would become “fertile” ground for lawyers, he added, saying that hospitals would be encouraged to tell receptioni­sts “to say nothing to patients apart from asking for details”.

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