Hospital Dr News

Government urged to curb rising costs of clinical negligence claims against NHS

The rising costs of clinical negligence claims are crippling the NHS and the Government has to do more to tackle the issue.

A coalition of organisations which represent the NHS and health professionals is calling for urgent action to reduce the £1.7 billion paid last year alone on medical negligence in England.

On average, an acute hospital will pay around 2% of its income on clinical negligence claims every year.

Overall, the value of claims in the pipeline is £65 billion.

It claims that a decision by the last Lord Chancellor to change the way compensation claims are calculated has made the costs even higher.

The NHS Confederation, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and BMA, amongst others, have signed a joint letter to David Gauke, the new Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, calling on him to bring forward important reforms in the handling of clinical negligence claims.

Signatories also include the Medical Protection Society, Medical Defence Union and the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland.

Last year, the ‘discount rate’, i.e. way compensation payments are calculated was changed, from plus 2.5% to minus 0.75%. This has pushed up compensation payments in personal injury cases where there is an element of future care costs and earnings.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “The rising cost of clinical negligence is unsustainable and means that vast resources that could be used by the NHS are being diverted elsewhere.

“We fully accept that there must be reasonable compensation for patients harmed through clinical negligence, but this needs to be balanced against society’s ability to pay. Money that is used for this purpose cannot be spent on frontline care.

“The time for action is now. That is why at the NHS Confederation, we have joined forces with a range of interested organisations to urge the new Lord Chancellor to act.

“As a start we desperately need the Government to implement reforms to how compensation payments are calculated, this is needed following a decision made by his predecessor which has had the disastrous effect of further inflating awards.”

Read the full letter.

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