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Priorities for the new Government

May 2015

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.”

Read MPS’s paper on ‘Priorities for the next government – 2015-2020'
  • By Sarah Stampfli- GP on 29 December 2015 03:09

    The problem for myself and colleagues is that working out of hours especially is getting too expensive to do with the indemnity fees. I fear for the running of out of hours, ie filling shifts as at present we will just have to say no when urgent shift is needed to be covered due to inability to afford the next hike in indemnity for us of 8K!!! ( up to a total in year of 19 and a bit thousand pounds.)

  • By GPatendoftether on 18 December 2015 01:54

    I agree the pendulum has swung too far in favour of the claimant. We appear to be the only country in the developed world which does not place a time limit on claims. This, and the prospect of being able to claim ridiculous sums for legal costs encourages lawyers to take on inappropriate cases. Then we have the antics of the GMC, who encourage us to have in-house procedures, but then allow patients to self refer cases directly to them without going through any prior stages to achieve resolution, and again with no obvious time limit. Once they receive a referral, they ride roughshod over established legal principles such as innocent until proven guilty, expecting us to prove our innocence rather than vice versa, adding baseless and spurious other allegations as they go along, and often refusing to drop a case until they have imposed some sort of sanction. Once they have done this, it appears that any subsequent claim for damages is impossible to defend, and of course we then have the principle of double jeopardy being tossed out of the window by NHS England, who are waiting with their daggers sharpened afterwards.

    I would like to see MPS tackling the full range of such issues, not just the capping of legal fees and time limits on cases, but well done for making a start, you have my support.

  • By D on 08 December 2015 01:39

    Rightly so and  agree with health care professionals.

    Healthcare professionals need to be protected with  insurance to serve the purpose alongside cases of negligence if expected to work such long shifts.

    It should also include it should be affordable to society in some ways.

    The threatening of sanctions needs to stop at a level acceptable for born uk nationals where a review should be looked into to fall in line with the mandating policies and actions.

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