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The BBC have recently published an article - http://www.bbc.com/news/health-42913396.This confirms that the cost of negligence claims against the NHS has almost doubled since 2010 to date.The article states that in 2016-2017 the NHS spent 1.7 billion on clinical negligence claims and that although the NHS appreciate that victims are entitled to be compensated the costs involved should be proportionate.
What is interesting to note is that there is no breakdown within the article as to how the 1.7 billion has been made up.In order to provide an accurate reflection, the figure provided should be broken down into the amounts paid by way of damages to those injured and the amounts paid in relation to costs claimed by solicitors representing the injured parties and in addition costs claimed by solicitors defending claims.
In my experience, costs could be easily minimised if the NHS admitted fault at an early stage.It appears to be the tactic of the NHS to deny the majority of claims presented to them, even though the circumstances of the treatment mean that it is apparent that the claim will ultimately be successful.This unfortunately results in the necessity to issue Court proceedings. Once Court proceedings have been commenced against the Trust, costs quickly escalate for both parties.It is very often the case that a claim will settle after a significant length of time very shortly before the matter is due to go to a final trial.
Court fees are expensive and additional fees are incurred when the expert witnesses involved are asked to comment upon the other party’s evidence.Such fees could be avoided if the NHS did not delay settlement of the claims and instead dealt with these swiftly and fairly.
The article also states that the Ministry of Justice are looking for a fairer way of setting pay out levels, this appears to go against their earlier comment fully accepting that there must be reasonable compensation for patients harmed through clinical negligence.
Of course the entire British Public sympathise with the situation the NHS find themselves in but this is not strictly down to negligence claims, which ultimately could be avoided by the NHS.