Opinion Former Article

House of Lords interested in restoring balance to NHS clinical negligence claims

The MDU welcomes a government commitment to look at ways to address the uncontrolled cost of clinical negligence. During yesterday’s debate in the House of Lords*, Lord O’Shaughnessy, the parliamentary under secretary for health stated that the government is considering this difficult and complex legal issue as part of a cross-government strategy that will report in September.

Dr Matthew Lee, MDU professional services director, said:

“We welcome the intervention by Lord Starkey to ask the government what it intends to do about repealing the outdated  S2(4) of the Law Reform (Personal Injuries) Act 1948 that requires all clinical negligence defendants to pay compensation for private, not NHS care.  Last year, NHS Resolution revealed it had spent a record £1.7bn in total on negligence claims against NHS hospital trusts in England - double the amount paid in 2010/11. The NHS now faces total claims liabilities of £65.1 billion in 2017/18, up from £56.4 billion the previous year.

“We desperately need some balance restored to the system of compensation payments. Of course, patients negligently harmed must receive adequate compensation, but as a society we must ask ourselves whether NHS defendants should be made to pay for private care as the law still requires. Wouldn’t it be better and fairer to spend precious NHS funds on paying for NHS and local authority care?

“Paying multi-million pound sums to individual patients diverts huge amounts of NHS money from wider patient care and must not be allowed to continue. The MDU has long argued that only radical legal reform will halt the rising costs of claims for the NHS. This must be a priority for the government.”

* Lord Sharkey’s question is asked at 15:10:23

Ends

The MDU is a not-for-profit organisation wholly dedicated to our members’ interests. Our team is led and staffed by doctors with real-life experience of the pressures and challenges faced in practice.

We offer our members expert guidance, personal support and robust defence in addressing medico-legal issues, complaints and claims. Our customised services range from legal assistance to indemnity to appropriate CPD.

 

Contact: 

Dawn Boyall, Laura Baker or Thenuka Mahendrarasa in the MDU’s press office

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