Letter: Fixing blame for medical mishaps

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Fixing blame for medical mishaps

Sir: It is difficult to understand why Polly Toynbee's sympathy lies with the NHS rather than with the victims of medical accidents ("Litigation is the wrong medicine", 12 June).

In her crusade to save the NHS from "ambulance-chasing legal leeches" she seems to have lost sight of where the wrong actually lies. The victims about whom she writes have all suffered severe distress as a result of the failure of the health service to provide an acceptable standard of care.

The vast majority of the 20,000 victims who have sought help from us have not done so because they were seeking someone to blame but simply to get relief from their distress. If, however, they have suffered mental and physical distress and economic loss through the fault of someone, should they refrain from seeking compensation solely because the fault lies with the NHS, which is short of funds or because if there had been no advance in medicine they would not have been entitled to that care anyway?

Nobody, least of all this organisation, wishes the NHS to be deprived of much-needed resources, but Polly Toynbee and others who disparage attempts by this one sector of injured people to obtain their justified redress should remember that, notwithstanding the problems of the NHS, it is the victim of a medical accident who deserves our sympathy and support.

ARNOLD SIMANOWITZ

Chief Executive

Action for Victims of

Medical Accidents

London SE23

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