I have made no secret of my views on the devastating effect that cuts in legal aid will have on Access to Justice for ordinary people.
But we cannot forget that cuts are also hitting the NHS. This affects the lives of vulnerable patients and could result in many claims for medical negligence.
This is highlighted today in a report that says that patients with learning difficulties are being put in danger because of inadequate levels of care –
This report is based on a survey of disability nurses – those in the front line of caring with this most vulnerable of groups. 73% say that they are concerned about the welfare of patients. The number of nurses with specialist training has dropped by a staggering 50% since 1995.
Dr. Peter Carter of the RCN said –
"Politicians need to understand that cheap care is poor care. Even the most hard-nosed economist will tell you that."
This is a double concern for all of us. The NHS has been one of the greatest achievements of the welfare state. All of us, regardless of political persuasion, agree that a service which offers quality care to all, regardless of means, is something for which we are rightly proud. But if the most vulnerable of all are being placed in danger due to economic policies then there is clearly something wrong.
But it is also a false economy.
If patients suffer injury or worse due to inadequate care then the NHS will be subjected to a huge increase in damages claims for negligence. The NHS funds will come under even greater pressure as a result. Now politicians like to blame victims and their lawyers who sue for damages, for putting a burden on taxpayers. But this is a case where nobody could be blamed other than those who are making the cuts. And why should caring nurses have to worry about negligence claims when their resources are stretched?
Basic care should be a right for all and those responsible for depriving patients of this should be held responsible.