Comment on Multi-Million Pound Settlements
7-figure compensation payouts are made only where Claimants have suffered the most catastrophic of injuries as a result of negligent care. Such settlements are needed to help these patients live with their very severe disabilities for the rest of their natural lives.
Typically, the compensation they received is used to pay for the costs of rehabilitation and further medical treatment that would have otherwise been avoided. They will often require 24-hours a day professional care in their own homes as a result of losing the vast majority of their independence. It is often also the case that their homes have to be adapted to meet their new needs.
Any compensation made by the NHSLA will have been made only after it has been persuaded that negligent treatment occurred and it has carefully scrutinised the injuries and needs of the person bringing the case. Only successful cases have been included in these figures; those patients who have suffered similar injuries as a result of reasonable care or recognised complications of surgery or who have congenital disabilities do not receive any compensation.
The increase in payments sadly reflects the fact that the incidence of clinical negligence
has not significantly reduced despite improvements in clinical governance. Although hospitals’ safety systems have improved considerably since 1997, the NHSLA’s July 2015 Annual Report confirms that the high-risk area of obstetrics continues to account for 41% of the value of clinical negligence settlements. Sadly, lessons from previous cases are not being learnt despite the NHSLA’s continued assertions to the contrary.
Successfully proving that your care has been negligent is far from easy and these settlements are only obtained after a considerable amount of difficult and skilful case preparation from the patients’ legal teams. In some of these cases, the patient will have been made to go through a court trial to prove their case. Any impression that these settlements have been easily obtained is unfortunately a very long way from reality. All of these patients would prefer to have their health rather than to live with a life-long disability.By far the best way for these payments to be avoided is to improve hospital safety procedures and investment in the NHS. Junior doctors, nurses and midwives need to feel valued and supported and the advances made in patient safety need to be continued. Attempts to limit patients’ access to lawyers will only serve to prevent justice being done.