Medical negligence cases caused by lack of regulation in private sector

Medical negligence claims for elective surgery in the private sector are set to rise as demand increases for new procedures such as bariatric surgery, used to treat obesity.

Stephensons Solicitors’ head of clinical negligence, Louise Griffiths, said there had been a rise in claims due to the lack of regulation in the private sector.

“One thing we are seeing with cosmetic procedures and those done in the private sector is that, because it is unregulated and often the surgeon is not necessarily trained to do it, you do get some surgeons having a go. That can often lead to problems,” she said.

In the private sector, general practitioners are required to register with the General Medical Council. There is no corresponding register for cosmetic surgeons, however.

British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons president Nigel Mercer said that qualified practitioners were being forced to pay premiums of more than £40,000 per year as a result of the high volume of claims generated by less qualified practitioners.

“In the UK, to operate on a dog you have to be a vet, but to operate on a human you don’t have to be anything. Anybody can call themselves a cosmetic surgeon, which is a major, major problem in the UK. We would strongly support legal recognition of cosmetic surgery as an entity because you can control who does what.”

A recent study by the Medical Defence Union, whch insures doctors, showed the number of medical negligence claims against surgeons following bariatric surgery has doubled in the past two years.