Hospital Dr News

£1.63bn: “We cannot go on like this with the NHS spending more and more on litigation”

The NHS paid more than £1.63 billion in damages to claimants in 2017/18, a significant increase on the previous year.

Pay outs to claimants in 2016/17 were £1.08bn, according to the NHS Resolution Annual Report, which claims the rise was due to a change in the personal injury discount rate.

It says legislation to address this is currently progressing through parliament.

On the positive side, the report reveals that there has been a small reduction in the number of new clinical negligence claims.

There was also a reduction in claimant legal costs (by £31.8 million) for the first time in many years as NHS Resolution implemented the first year of its five-year strategy – Delivering fair resolution and learning from harm.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said “we cannot go on like this with the NHS spending more and more on litigation”.

He said: “It is right and fair that there must be reasonable compensation for patients harmed through clinical negligence and we need to do everything we can to eliminate these mistakes.

“But the justifiable case for compensation has to be balanced against society’s ability to pay and the fact that we have a free at the point of use health care system.”

Emma Hallinan, Director of Claims Policy and Legal at MPS, called for swift government action.

“Legal reform is required to strike a balance between compensation that is reasonable, but also affordable. The Government is committed to publishing a strategy in September and this needs to be bold if we are going to get close to addressing these rising costs.

“Swift progress is also needed on the Civil Liability Bill to reform the way the discount rate is set.”

Helen Vernon, NHS Resolution chief executive, said: “The growing interest both from our NHS members and those who act for injured patients in working together to resolve claims for compensation without going to court has been very encouraging and we hope to build on this so that mediation is no longer seen as novel in healthcare.

“However, the cost of clinical negligence is at all-time high. The total provisions for all of our indemnity schemes continue to rise from £65 billion last year to £77 billion as of 31 March 2018 which brings a renewed urgency to efforts across government to tackle the drivers of that cost.”

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