NHS facing medical negligence bill of £713 million
The cost of medical negligence claims continues to rise and over the next year the NHS is facing a bill of £713 million to cover claims and the cost of the Legal Process.
Part of the reason for this increase is that there are many outstanding maternity cases which have been awaiting the outcome of a case in the Court of Appeal. Already cash strapped, some NHS Trusts are falling into deficit and there is concern that cash is being diverted from patient care.
The purpose of a Compensation Award is to place the injured person in the position that they would have been in had they not been the victim of medical negligence. With cases involving birth injuries, a substantial and often the majority of the award is for the cost of a package of care in the future. The courts have now determined that these cases should be settled at a higher level in the future.
The response of the NHSLA who deal with settlement of claims on behalf of Trusts, has been to suggest that the reason for the increase is the introduction of "No Win No Fee Agreements" in which the Claimant’s solicitor benefits from an uplift in costs if the case is successful.
Most of these high value cases are in fact publically funded as the injured claimant, a child qualifies for public funding in their own right. Solicitors often work on these cases for several years and if unsuccessful effectively bear some of the costs themselves.
Sadly without better patient care medical negligence claims will continue to arise and as a consequence Trusts will have an obligation in the future for these continuing problems.