MDDUS urges government to push through plans to reduce legal costs

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release: Wednesday, 24 August 2016

MDDUS strongly supports early implementation of measures to reduce legal costs in clinical negligence cases.

MDDUS chief executive Chris Kenny has written to Minister for NHS Productivity Lord Prior of Brampton who is responsible for taking the next steps following the government’s recent review of GP indemnity.

In the letter, Kenny urges the government to push through plans to reduce legal costs in clinical negligence claims as soon as possible.

“We welcome the fact that in the recently published GP Indemnity Review, the government and NHS England found the indemnity market to be competitive and that the price increases our members face are fundamentally driven by factors beyond our own control,” says Kenny.

“The absence of effective controls on the amount of costs which can be recovered in negligence cases is a key driver and substantive action is required on the underlying causes of these increases.

“The scope for savings for both medical defence organisations and the NHSLA are considerable, especially for lower value claims. We all have many examples of where the amount paid in legal costs is significantly greater than the compensation payments made to the patient. 

“It is for that reason that the idea of a cap to overcome these perverse incentives of the current system is so attractive. Not only will it ensure far tighter management of costs at the level of the individual case, but it will have the right incentive effects in ensuring that only the strongest cases are selected and prepared in the most cost-effective manner.”

Meanwhile, figures from forthcoming MDDUS’ 2015 annual report reveal a continuing growing trend in compensation claims and litigation. Our figures show the number of claims for clinical negligence against members across the UK rose by 22 per cent compared to the previous year. This included a 16.4 per cent rise in claims notified against GPs and a 20.6 per cent increase in claims against hospital doctors.

“It is a continuing challenge to set subscription rates that are fair to members whilst at the same time ensuring that members have the necessary financial reassurance from MDDUS of its ability to meet the costs of claims and non-claims in the future,” says Kenny.

“We have done our best to restrain costs to reduce the pressure on rates and, in 2016, to price support for out-of-hours working in order to make sure that the right incentives are in place to protect professionals doing this vital work.

“We achieve excellent results in both our claims and regulatory work. Whilst the number of regulatory and inquest cases continues to increase, our success rate in concluding these investigations without a referral to a regulatory practice committee remains at an exceptionally high level, with the vast majority being concluded successfully without any payment.”

The strength of the company is highlighted by MDDUS chairman Brendan Sweeney. “As a mutual non-profit organisation, MDDUS has members, not shareholders and does not pay dividends,” he says.

“Taking account of appropriate independent expert advice to our Remuneration Committee, we pay competitively, but not extravagantly, to ensure that we have staff of the right quality to maintain an excellent service for our members. We have in place rigorous controls over the expenditure of our members’ money. This - coupled with our financial acumen - means that we maintain very competitive subscription rates and have built a financially strong organisation”.

Ends

For further information contact Richard Hendry on 0845 270 2034 or 07976 272266, or email rihendry@mddus.com.

Note to editors

MDDUS (The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland) is a medical and dental defence organisation providing access to professional indemnity and expert medico- and dento-legal advice for doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals throughout the UK.

For further information on MDDUS go to www.mddus.com.