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Legal reform must help control spiralling costs

MPS has lobbied the government to address the spiralling costs of clinical negligence claims and the increasingly detrimental effect that this is having on health professionals and the public purse. We have made the risks clear and that action is needed. We have strongly encouraged the government to introduce pre-action protocols – in other words, to introduce a process that provides predictability, discipline and transparency. This is essential for the speedy resolution of clinical negligence claims and therefore controlling legal costs.
We have strongly encouraged the government to introduce pre-action protocols – in other words, to introduce a process that provides predictability, discipline and transparency

We have written to the Minister of Justice & Equality and Minister of Health seeking the introduction of mechanisms that:

  • Speed up the process for considering a claim (and apply financial penalties for unreasonable delays)
  • Dismiss claims at an earlier stage when it is not supported by an expert opinion
  • Make it easier to challenge unreasonable legal costs
  • Place a greater emphasis on mediation for claims and complaints.

There is little in the litigation process that encourages the easy resolution of cases. This protracted process can have a significant impact on the final cost of settling a claim as it means legal bills continue to mount and compensation awards often increase in size. The cost of settling a claim that should have been resolved in 2011, for example, can be significantly greater to settle in 2014.

The need for change is further highlighted by the fact that compensation payments and legal costs go completely against the economic trends of the last five years. At a time when wages have dropped in real terms and inflation is close to zero, costs have continued to increase dramatically.

MPS will maintain our lobbying efforts throughout this year and reinforce our drive for change.

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