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In recent weeks the parliamentary Health and Social Care Committee has called for the abandonment of adversarial clinical negligence litigation for the majority of cases and for the establishment of an independent administrative body to investigate claims and determine potential compensation.
This new suggested scheme would remove the need to prove that there has been negligence in patient care before compensation is paid for an injury. The new recommendations would not necessarily prevent patients from bringing negligence claims, however they would need to go through the new administrative body as a mandatory step.
MPs have also suggested that all compensation should be based on the costs necessary to top up care through the NHS - rather than the current assumption that care will be provided privately. In addition to this, further suggestions were made to remove the expected future earnings link in claims for people under 18.
Committee chair Jeremy Hunt MP, a former health secretary, stated that the system of compensating patients is long overdue for reform, and it was unsustainable for the NHS in England to pay more than £2bn in negligence payments each year. ‘Under the current system, patients have to fight for compensation, often a bitter, slow and stressful experience with a quarter of the enormous taxpayer-funded sums ending up in the pockets of lawyers,’ Hunt stated.
‘We need a better system that learns from mistakes, following the lead of countries like New Zealand and Sweden. We must move away from a culture of blame to one that puts the prevention of future harms at its core.’
If this recommendation is implemented, the changes would have a significant impact on the clinical negligence sector. Representative bodies have strongly condemned the proposal stating the suggested changes would increase costs and require patients harmed by the NHS to rely on it for future care.
Guy Forster of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) stated that the recommendations would ‘create a huge increase in the number of claims against the NHS. The only way that would be sustainable would be to reduce dramatically the level of damages people would be able to claim. That would undermine the principle of full and fair compensation for people who are injured through the negligence of others and that is completely unacceptable.’
It is clear that this recommendation will have a huge impact on the clinical negligence sector and the current process of establishing a claim. It will be interesting to note whether the new suggestion is implemented and the logistical challenges and costs that come to light during implementation.
At Ramsdens our highly experienced Clinical Negligence team, who have experience in dealing with claims of a sensitive nature, are here and able to assist in potential claims. If you are concerned about the care received by you or a loved one please do not hesitate to contact us on 01484 821 500, fill out our online enquiry form or email us to discuss confidentially.