Geldards Partner and Clinical Negligence specialist, Spencer Collier, comments on the recent news regarding the NHS facing large clinical negligence legal fees bill:
“I read with interest the BBC article relating to the spiralling cost of clinical negligence claims in England, standing currently at 83 billion in relation to outstanding claims, with more than 10,000 new cases every year.
True it is, the figures are staggering and eye watering and to be fair, the NHS UK wide would benefit significantly from even a portion of that invested in frontline healthcare. It would have a massive positive impact on reducing many waiting lists. But it is clear to me that some critical facts are being ignored.
In the first instance, is enough being done to address the root causes of the problem? Why was a particular negligent mistake made and what was done in consequence? I can say with confidence, that after over 25 years working in this area, the same mistakes seem to be made for the same reasons, sometimes in the same Health Board /NHS Trust. Does the NHS therefore actually learn from its mistakes so as to minimise/prevent recurrence?
Once a mistake has been made, a defensive culture seems to put in place, with many cases running for a significant period of time before they eventually settle. The NHS cannot have it both ways. If they are going to defend a case for 3 or 4 years and then settle compensation ,it cannot complain about the resultant costs that arise which would have been less if it had settled much earlier.
Peter Walsh’s comments as Chief Executive of AVMA (Action Against Medical Accidents) that prompt compensation is not always forthcoming remain true. In addition, although the MDU is seeking to overhaul the damages system as the awards are high, this is not always the case. General Damages for pain and suffering have always been on the low side and in fact, the bereavement allowance paid to the parents of a deceased child still stands at a meagre £12,980.
Although the figures are large, I have witnessed first-hand the devastation suffered when things go wrong, and patients are left significantly disabled or even dead. For this spend to be analysed correctly, the Government needs to take a much wider and inclusive look at the problem and collectively determine why the spend is so high, starting in my opinion, with better understanding of why things went wrong in the first place and the reasons so as to prevent recurrence. Until this is done, we are unlikely to see much of a reduction.”
View the BBC news article here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51180944
If you or a family member have been affected by medical negligence you may be entitled to compensation. For more information please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Medical Negligence Team.
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