With the new government in place, and Jeremy Hunt MP reappointed as the Secretary of State for Health, it is crucial that they focus on addressing some key concerns of stakeholders.
A recent MPS survey revealed that two in three doctors (68%) believe there is a blame and shame culture in the NHS, and that it will be difficult to overcome this.1
This compares with 66% of respondents to the same survey conducted in 2011, indicating that there has not been a positive culture change in four years.
To create a collaborative, open learning culture MPS recommends:
- A moratorium on the introduction of new regulations on the healthcare profession
- Exploring and investing in alternatives to regulation
MPS would like the focus for the new government to be on removing the culture of fear in healthcare and creating a collaborative, open, learning environment where healthcare professionals are encouraged to want to be accountable.
While safeguarding the public must be a priority, regulation is not always the best way of achieving this and could lead to healthcare professionals practising defensively, taking the focus away from the best interests of the patient. MPS is also concerned about the rising cost of clinical negligence, and believes that there is need for a debate about whether these costs are affordable for society.
While safeguarding the public must be a priority, regulation is not always the best way of achieving this and could lead to healthcare professionals practising defensively
To tackle the rising cost of clinical negligence MPS recommends:
- Fixed costs for small value clinical negligence claims
MPS is concerned that legal costs can dwarf compensation payments, and we propose that a fixed costs regime for small value claims should be introduced to redress the balance.
In a recent case relating to delayed diagnosis of skin cancer, damages of £30,000 for the patient were agreed within five months yet legal costs were claimed to the sum of £60,000. These costs were eventually settled at £42,000.
Dr Rob Hendry, Medical Director at the Medical Protection Society said, “Tough decisions about healthcare funding are made every day and the costs of clinical negligence should not be seen as separate or unconnected from this.
“Quite simply, more money being set aside to cover the cost of clinical negligence claims, particularly in the NHS, means that frontline services will have less funding available to them. Ultimately, the patient will suffer as a result.
“We need to have a debate about whether the cost of clinical negligence claims is affordable for society. Our analysis of claims shows that GPs are more likely to be sued now than ever before and it is not unusual for claimants’ lawyers’ costs to exceed the damages awarded to claimants in lower value clinical negligence claims.”2
Dr Hendry continued, “Creating a culture of collaborative learning and openness will bring with it a willingness to apologise if something goes wrong. Mandating actions and threatening sanctions is unlikely to deliver sustainable cultural change. It is imperative the government empowers and supports healthcare professionals to do what they entered healthcare to do – care for patients.”