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Failing hospitals “should be fined”


14 December, 2007  

New legislation should be brought in so hospitals can be fined if they harm patients, the Government’s Chief Medical Officer claims.

Sir Liam Donaldson said the public should not have to pay for poor standards of care that result in people having an extended stay in wards.

He said: “Why should the health service, funded by the taxpayer, pay for the care of a patient that’s had bad care?

“In any other walk of life if you receive very bad service then you don’t pay for it, you get a refund, and I don’t think it should be any different in the health service.

“If somebody develops MRSA and has to stay in hospital longer to be treated, why should it be funded?”

Laws in the US mean some states are forced to report extremely serious medical errors, and last month Rhode Island Hospital was fined $50,000 (£24,539) for performing “wrong site” surgery on a patient for the third time in a year.

Sir Liam said a similar system in the UK could act as an “incentive” for hospitals to provide better levels of care.

He said he will recommend the idea to the health minister Lord Darzi, who is currently carrying out a review of the NHS.

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 Chief Medical Officer