Clinical negligence claims have been a hot political and media potato for some time and are very much back on the Government agenda with a consultation coming up shortly to look at whether the majority of claims should have the legal costs fixed.
Many statistics are bandied around about the increase in claims, damages and costs but there a few interesting ones which haven’t featured very highly on those produced by the NHS Litigation Authority, who are essentially the claims handlers for Hospital Trusts around the country.
Firstly, the operating costs of the NHSLA have fallen 27% in the last year, secondly, the number of claims reported to the NHSLA over the last year have fallen and, thirdly, the amount of compensation paid has fallen. This is clearly good news for the taxpayer and maybe evidence the message is getting through which is that to reduce the claims, and therefore the cost to the NHS, negligent errors by the medical profession need to be reduced and lessons learned from errors rather than the defensive medicine we have seen practiced for too long.
The true cost can only really be felt by those who have been negligently injured, sometimes catastrophically, who tell me compensation will never put them back to the person they were but will at the very least ensure they are adequately cared for and indeed ensure their family is provided for.
By Sara Westwood at email@example.com