Hospitals to say “sorry” for patient blunders

Picture: TSPL

Picture: TSPL

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Doctors and hospital chiefs will now be allowed to say “sorry” to patients for botched operations and blunders without fear of being sued, under new laws passed by MSPs.

The landmark Apologies Bill was passed in the form of a Members’ Bill brought by Tory MSP Margaret Mitchell.

It is hoped that without the fear of litigation, a culture of apologising will be encouraged. As well as the medical field, it could also apply to areas like car accidents where potential insurance claims are pending.

The new laws will not prevent the prospect of future legal action, but the apology itself cannot be used as the basis for any claim.

Mrs Mitchell said it will also allow patients and people seeking the apology to gain closure.

It could potentially save significant sums of money for the taxpayer.

“I am gratified that the Scottish Government has taken on this common sense approach and worked collaboratively to pass this Bill,” Mrs Mitchell said.

“The Bill seeks to ensure that when people want an apology for an act or an omission, this can be given without them having to take legal action or even issuing a complaint in the first place.

“In addition to benefiting both the person seeking the apology and the apologiser, it has the potential to result in preventative spend savings in both the public and private sector.

Apologies legislation has been passed in other countries including the USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Mrs Mitchell said Scotland is now “leading the way in the UK on this issue.”

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