The use of private detectives to follow potential Claimants who sue the NHS for compensation is on the rise. A record of 55 surveillance operations were authorised in 2016 – 2017 up from 24 in 2013 -2014.
The purpose of obtaining the covert surveillance evidence in Clinical Negligence Claims is to attempt to show that the Claimant’s injuries or on-going disabilities are less than what they are claiming, or that they are inconsistent with the Claimant’s evidence. So obtaining surveillance evidence is an additional expense being incurred by the NHS (the Government) to try and avoid paying out on Claims even where they accept that the patient received negligence treatment. In some cases the NHS can then apply to the Court to have the claim struck out on the basis of the Claimant’s apparent dishonesty.
A High Court ruling last year in the case of Hayden v Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust allowed the Hospital to rely on surveillance evidence despite the fact it had only been sent to the Claimant shortly before Trial and therefore amounted to an ambush. The rationale behind this decision was that the surveillance footage will be allowed if the overall interest of justice favourite its admission even is it necessitates a Trial date to be vacated.
In the age of social media, we are also seeing that Defendants will trawl a Claimant’s social media to attempt to find anything which could be damaging to the Claimant’s case.
Surveillance evidence has been an Insurance Industry tactic for many years, but it is concerning that cash strapped NHS Trusts are beginning to spend their budgets on this sort of thing – rather than patient care or compensating patients following their own mistakes.