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”.