Nurses are also spending too much time filling out paperwork to avoid getting sued, which is taking them away from patients, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) conference in Bournemouth heard yesterday.
Proposing a debate on the issue, Marcia Turnham, from Cambridgeshire, said nurses were having to spend "more time recording care than giving care", while the compensation culture meant nurses "could feel they are under the microscope".
John Hill, from Scunthorpe, told the conference people's expectations ran high because of what they saw on television. In A&E it is sometimes a fact that you cannot get people through the trauma they have received.
"Unlike Holby City, I'm a mere mortal, I cannot perform miracles but many relatives believe because of that that you can. And injury lawyers assure them that if you don't they will be able to get some recompense for it."
Figures from the NHS Litigation Authority show there were 6,080 claims in England for clinical negligence in 2008-9, and 3,743 claims of non-clinical negligence, both up around 10 per cent on the previous year.
In 2006/07 the NHS spent 613 million settling claims, rising to 661m in 2007/08 and 807m in 2008/09.