The Health and Social Care Committee has launched a new inquiry to examine the case for the reform of NHS litigation against a background of a significant increase in costs, and concerns that the clinical negligence process fails to do enough to encourage lessons being learnt which promote future patient safety.
Commenting, Dr Rob Hendry, Medical Director at Medical Protection, said:
“We welcome the new Health and Social Care Committee inquiry examining the substantial cost of clinical negligence claims to the NHS and the case for legal reform. The annual cost of clinical negligence to the NHS has risen by 156% over the past 10 years and from the £2.2bn paid out during 2020/21, legal costs accounted for £600m (27%) of that bill. In lower value claims it is not unusual to see lawyers' costs exceed the compensation awarded to claimants. The increased cost of clinical negligence claims also significantly impacts on the cost on indemnity for healthcare professionals who are not covered by a state-backed scheme.
“It is right that we question whether such costs are sustainable for the NHS, and whether this amount of NHS money should be spent on lawyer fees.
“A package of legal reforms is needed to control spiralling costs and help to strike a balance between compensation that is reasonable, but also affordable for the NHS and society. But we also need to make continual improvements in patient safety to prevent adverse incidents, and get to the heart of what patients hope to achieve through litigation. While some may seek financial redress, others want an apology or to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen again – and the Committee is right to examine whether the current system facilitates this open, learning culture.
“The Government committed to publishing a strategy to tackle rising clinical negligence costs in September 2018, and while we recognise it currently has more pressing priorities, we must not lose sight of this; at a time when the NHS needs every penny it can get, tackling these costs becomes all the more pertinent. We hope this inquiry will help to keep the issue high on the agenda.”
For media queries contact: Mike.Bridge@medicalprotection.org; +44 (0)7773 573303
About Medical Protection
Medical Protection is a trading name of The Medical Protection Society Limited (“MPS”). MPS is the world’s leading protection organisation for doctors, dentists and healthcare professionals. We protect and support the professional interests of almost 300,000 members around the world. Membership provides access to expert advice and support and can also provide, depending on the type of membership required, the right to request indemnity for any complaints or claims arising
from professional practice.
Our in-house experts assist with the wide range of legal and ethical problems that arise from professional practice. This can include clinical negligence claims, complaints, medical and dental council inquiries, legal and ethical dilemmas, disciplinary procedures, inquests and fatal accident inquiries.
Our philosophy is to support safe practice in medicine and dentistry by helping to avert problems in the first place. We do this by promoting risk management through our workshops, E-learning, clinical risk assessments, publications, conferences, lectures and presentations.
MPS is not an insurance company. All the benefits of membership of MPS are discretionary as set out in the Memorandum and Articles of Association.