The "CARRY ON" Policy of our Government towards victims of Medical Mistakes
A Specialist Clinical Negligence Lawyer at Simpson Millar looks at the governments "CARRY ON" policy towards victims of Medical Blunders.
Carry On… Justice
"Just imagine this scene, …the Justice Minister (lets say played by Kenneth Williams) is asked by the Prime Minister (played by Sid James) to come up with a policy which will sort out once and for all those annoying victims of NHS blunders who have the audacity to ask for access to Justice just because they may have suffered devastating and lifelong injury or the death of a loved one.
The Justice Minister immediately starts scribbling down ideas in his Filofax.
I know he thinks, lets make it as hard as possible for victims of even the worst medical blunders
to make a claim in the first place. Lets… (a) Withdraw legal aid from the majority of medical negligence cases (including those for children injured by Medical Blunders). That way we can take care of all the poor people, children and wipe out all the deserving but borderline claims in one go, cool!
(b) Increase Court fees to a staggering £10,000 for any cases involving children left severely brain damaged by Hospital Negligence and those with devastating life long injury who need lots of care! That should frighten them off and think what we can save!
(c) If that doesn't work lets cap costs to a % of any damages they are awarded if they win, even if it takes them five years and it's not their fault! That way we can make it impossible for them to find a Lawyer to represent them in the first place!
(d) If all that fails lets bring in cost capping through the back door under the pretence of "Proportionality". That way we can tell all our Cost Judges to blame the victims for spirally costs even when it's not their fault, Yes!!!
Next, lets support the NHS and its lawyers in wasting £1bn of taxpayers money fighting indefensible claims by victims of medical blunders who have suffered life long injury, disability or even death, whilst at the same time manipulating the media with stories of "greedy claimant lawyers" and a "compensation culture", cool!
We can even put out a press release naming and shaming the top ten law firms who milk the NHS in legal fees, but we must forget to leave out the bit about seven of them being employed by us to fight the victims and that the remaining three only get paid if they win! We had also better not mention that our firms get paid either way!
Next, lets just stick our heads in the sand and hope it all goes away. That way we wont have to bother with the real issues of: (a) Why the NHS and its lawyers have caused costs to spiral by fighting indefensible claims which should have been settled and...
(b) Implement policies which might make the NHS more open and honest and make early admissions of liability when appropriate
Lastly, lets make sure that everyone working in government has great private healthcare! This really does sound like a script for a "CARRY ON" film doesn't it? Well believe it or not this really is our governments policy towards victims of Medical Negligence!
Refusing to listen
The government IS ignoring the real issues and concentrating instead solely on the victims costs, which are only paid if the victim wins their case, and then blaming the victim afterwards for bringing the claim in the first place, even though those costs are the result of a steadfast NHS Trust and its lawyers fighting a claim, often over many years, which should have been settled at an early stage, saving the tax payer millions of pounds.
How can the government possibly be supporting this situation?
Why is this government continuing to listen to the illogical arguments put forward by the NHS and its insurers instead of consulting closely with those representing the true victims, those who have fought so hard for justice on behalf of victims of medical negligence who, it seems to me, are the only ones offering a voice of reason!
Access to Justice
Instead of investigating why the NHS and its Defence lawyers continue to fight meritorious claims costing millions of pounds to the Tax payer and causing untold mental stress and harm to those who have been injured by medical blunders in the process the Government chooses to blame the victims of medical blunders and the lawyers fighting for justice on their behalf. The Governments response to the situation has been to implement policies which will deny as many victims of medical blunders access to Justice as possible and those measures have already included the withdrawal of Legal Aid, (including Legal Aid for injured children) from the majority of medical negligence cases and a staggering increase in Court fees (now £10,000 for some claims!) which has already put access to justice beyond the reach for thousands of UK citizens.
The public appear to be totally unaware of what is happening, in large part a consequence of the governments manipulation of the media with stories, now proven to be myth, of "greedy" claimant lawyers and a compensation culture. The Governments new proposed savings on clinical negligence claims, instead of addressing the problem of NHS lawyers fighting indefensible claims will simply put access to justice beyond reach for many thousands of victims of medical negligence which appears to be the Governments true agenda.
Capping victims costs to a proportion of their damages will not work whilst the NHS and its lawyers continue to fight claims which should be settled, often over many years.