Inter Law – ВЈ8 billion reserve to cover medical negligence claims

ВЈ8 billion reserve to cover medical negligence claims The National Health Service has reportedly put £8 billion to one side to help to deal with an expected increase in medical negligence claims over the next 10 years. This reserve will be used to tackle rising compensation cases and legal bills as a result.

The вЂ?worst case scenario’ figure of £7.8 billion for the next decade, is based on claims currently being assessed, alleged cases of negligence that may result in a claim within this 10 year time frame, and the rising level of pay outs to successful claimants.

The NHS Litigation Authority pays out an average of £500 million a year in claims and legal fees, with between 6,500 and 7,000 news claims submitted yearly. They are also dealing with around 20,000 cases at any one time which can take 18 months to resolve.

Steve Webb, who obtained these government figures, and was at the time health spokesman for the Liberal Democrats said, “These figures are shocking. It is about time that the system settling claims was streamlined. The NHS needs to move away from the blame culture of the past, where staff members are afraid to admit when mistakes occur.”

A Medical Defence Union who protect doctors against negligence claims have blamed this reserve being put in place by the NHS on the increase of the size of the claims being received. A spokesman said, “Courts have raised the level of payments for pain and suffering and the way that lump sums have been paid out has changed which has also added to the costs.”

Another factor for the increase in pay-outs by the NHS is the fault of вЂ?ambulance chasers’ or вЂ?claim farmers’ according to the Claims Standard Council ( CSC ). These companies will distribute thousands of leaflets throughout hospitals, often without the knowledge of NHS management but carrying their logo, encouraging sick and injured patients to lodge compensation claims against the health service.

CSC ‘s policy director, Andrew Wigmore said, “We have had literally hundreds of complaints from doctors, consumers and lawyers. This is a fundamental abuse of trust because when people pick up NHS literature they expect it to be legitimate.”

The government introduced a bill to control rising costs that will try to keep medical negligence cases out of the courts. The NHS Redress Act 2006 covers NHS liability to pay compensation to patients up to £20,000, вЂ?in respect of or consequent upon personal injury or loss arising out of or in connection with breach of a duty of care owed to any person in connection with the diagnosis of illness, or the care or treatment of any patient, and in consequence of any act or omission by a health care professional’.

This however, applies only to care given in hospitals and not by GP’s or dentists in surgeries, nor to ophthalmic or pharmaceutical services.

Chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson said, “In the past cases have taken too long to settle. In smaller value claims the legal costs have been disproportionate to the damages awarded.”

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