The NHS is an enormous organisation and failures of communication are an ever present risk. In one case, a man who was put through back surgery, despite a clear recommendation from a consultant that his condition should at first be treated conservatively, has secured more than £90,000 in compensation.
The man suffered from a degenerative back condition, but the consultant had told him that surgery would only be pursued as an option if conservative treatment, including physiotherapy, did not yield results. He was nevertheless put onto an operating waiting list and underwent the surgery. Although the operation appeared to have gone well, he suffered nerve root damage, a very rare complication.
The relevant NHS trust admitted that there had been a negligent breakdown in communication and that he had undergone the operation earlier than he would otherwise have done. In making the award, the Court rejected claims that the man had himself been negligent in not drawing attention to the failure to adhere to the treatment plan recommended by the consultant. Had he undergone the operation later, it would probably have been successful and the complication would not have arisen. His damages were agreed at £92,500.