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Medical Protection Society calls on Government not to water down the Civil Liability Bill

Post date: 04/09/2018 | Time to read article: 3 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 06/09/2018

The House of Commons will debate The Civil Liability Bill for the first time on Tuesday 4th September, which includes reforms that could have more of an impact on the NHS than any other Bill during the past five years.  The Medical Protection Society is calling on MPs not to water down proposals to reform how the personal injury discount rate (PIDR) is set and to allow the Bill to proceed quickly.  They are also calling on the Government to set out a bold programme of reforms in a forthcoming strategy that will address the ever rising cost of clinical negligence. 

The drastic reduction of the PIDR to minus 0.75% from 2.5% in March 2017 has significantly increased the cost of compensation for claims where there are future costs such as care costs or loss of earnings - exacerbating an already challenging situation.  The change has caused the cost of settling new clinical negligence claims to rise astronomically, which will be unsustainable in the long term.

Last year alone the NHS in England spent £2.2bn on clinical negligence claims; a 30% increase on the previous year, and a 158% increase on the costs in 2010/11.  This equates to the cost of training over 9,800 new doctors.

NHS Resolution has estimated that over £70bn will be needed for future Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST) costs, relating to claims arising from incidents that have already occurred. This is up from £60bn in 2016/17.

The rising cost of settling clinical negligence claims against GPs has also led to the Government announcing plans to introduce a state-backed indemnity scheme for general practice in England.

Emma Hallinan, Director of Claims Policy and Legal at MPS said:

“Swift progress is needed on the Civil Liability Bill to reform the way the discount rate is set to address the ever rising cost of clinical negligence.  We are calling for the Bill not to be watered down as it progresses, so that the decision on the rate change can be implemented promptly.  

“Of the £520m increase in NHS spend on clinical negligence in 2017/2018; over £400m was due to the recent change in the discount rate.  The Civil Liability Bill will help to ensure that patients continue to have access to compensation but with lump sum payments more accurately reflecting their needs and with the total cost to the NHS and healthcare professionals being more affordable.

“This is without doubt a difficult debate to have, but difficult decisions are made about spending in healthcare every day and we have reached a point where the amount society pays for clinical negligence must be one of them.”

In its Striking a Balance campaign Medical Protection Society is proposing a wider package of legal reforms to control spiralling costs and help to strike a balance between compensation that is reasonable, but also affordable for the NHS and society.

It is important that there is reasonable compensation for patients harmed following clinical negligence, but a balance must be struck against society’s ability to pay.  If the current trend continues the balance will tip too far and the cost risks becoming unsustainable.

ENDS

For further information contact: Lorna Wiltshire, Media Relations Manager. Tel: 0207 640 5290; lorna.wiltshire@medicalprotection.org

About MPS

The Medical Protection Society Limited (“MPS”) is the world’s leading protection organisation for doctors, dentists and healthcare professionals. We protect and support the professional interests of more than 300,000 members around the world. Membership provides access to expert advice and support together with the right to request indemnity for 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.

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