Medical Negligence Claims Costing NHS


The Law Of … Rising Compensation Payouts

Research carried out by the BBC has found that Welsh NHS trusts are being hammered for millions in clinical error cases. Medical negligence Solicitor, Alison Hills, looks at how a cash starved health service is paying the price for its mistakes.

medical negligence claims costing NHS

Excess Of £200million

The research was undertaken as the onset of winter pushed an underfunded NHS further into crisis.

Key points from the BBC's report revealed that:

  • An excess of £200million had been paid to settle claims in the past 5 years
  • £67million was the highest amount paid by a single trust – the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board between 2012 and 2017
  • The overall figure includes £2.1million in payments for incidents occurring prior to 1997.

The figures come from 4 of the 7 health boards that make up NHS Wales, with the remaining 3 failing to respond to the BBC's requests.

The payouts weren't restricted to the local health boards either, with the Welsh Ambulance Service's NHS Trust, the Velindre NHS Trust (responsible for cancer and blood services) and Public Health Wales all hit with compensation claims totalling £3.4million, £376,000 and £1.9million respectively.

Rise In Legacy Payouts

As part of a wider study into the NHS and medical negligence, the BBC research also found that across the UK compensation payouts for errors occurring before 1995 were also on the rise.

In England, there is a government-funded scheme that handles negligence claims dating back prior to April 1995. In 2017, its compensation bill rose by 13% to £27.7million. The majority of these payouts during the past 5 years have been for maternity cases, which offers some possible explanation as to the reasons for the rise.

Claims involving birth injuries can be notoriously complex and take a considerable amount of time to reach a conclusion. There is often a need for exhaustive medical assessments and evaluations of the affected child's care needs, some of which cannot be undertaken until they are older.

Do Other Factors Impact Payouts?

Another conceivable factor that could play into the reasons for the rise in legacy payouts is that the families of those affected may not initially realise they have a claim or an entitlement to compensation.

Whereas a typical medical negligence claim has to be made within 3 years of the incident taking place (or the effects of the negligence being diagnosed), where a child is concerned it can be made on their behalf up until the age of 18, after which the 3 year rule applies. There is no time limit if the child is classed as lacking the mental capacity to handle their own affairs.

Alison comments:

“There have been a number of concerning reports recently highlighting that the same errors are occurring time and time again. It really is therefore no surprise that costs are escalating, particularly with birth injury cases where often the baby will require life-long care.”

“These types of cases are also complex and require thorough investigation with a number of different experts involved. The NHS needs to take every single adverse incident seriously and particularly where birth injuries are concerned to avoid repeat errors being made in the future”.

If you believe you or a loved one was a victim of medical negligence, contact Simpson Millar today.

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