Paying for NHS litigation will wipe out Budget health spending pledge

MDDUS has urged Sajid Javid to urgently reform clinical negligence laws to avoid Budget health spending pledges being effectively wiped out by the massive annual cost to the NHS of compensation pay-outs

The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) highlighted how a £2.3bn cash injection for NHS diagnostics is matched exactly by the sums the health service paid in the last financial year to settle clinical negligence claims.

In evidence to an influential Commons select committee, MDDUS set out a five-point plan it said the Heath Secretary must act on to substantially reduce the claims burden on the NHS – and challenge the compensation culture that drives it.

Chris Kenny, the chief executive of MDDUS which represents the professional interests of more than 53,000 doctors and dentists across the UK, said:

“The current system of clinical negligence piles financial pressure onto the NHS with a direct impact on waiting times and quality of care.

“Put simply, that leads to more clinical negligence cases and, in turn, to yet more costs to the NHS.

“As we set out in our evidence to the Health and Social Care Select Committee, the case for reforming clinical negligence is now overwhelming.

“The extra funding in the Budget for diagnostics is very welcome but that does of course make it ironic that the £2.3bn pledged by the Chancellor is precisely the same sum paid out by NHS Resolution to settle clinical negligence cases in 2020/21.”

Dr Naeem Nazem, head of the medical division at MDDUS, added:

“It is vital that the Government sets out a coherent strategy to tackle the rise in clinical negligence costs, whilst ensuring fair, proportionate, and affordable redress for affected patients.

“As the NHS is attempting to build back from the peak impact of the pandemic, it is imperative more is done to reduce overall compensation costs for clinical negligence, whilst ensuring the money which is spent more quickly reaches those whose needs are greatest.

“The reform package proposed by MDDUS, if adopted as a whole by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, would bring a net benefit to the NHS amounting to multiple millions of pounds each year in saved costs.”

MDDUS’ five-point proposal for reform includes:

  1. Repeal of S2(4) of the Law Reform (Personal Injuries) Act 1948
  2. Abolition of QOCS and the re-introduction of legal aid
  3. Introduction of fixed recoverable costs in clinical negligence claims up to £100,000
  4. Cap on future earnings and earning capacity cost
  5. Full review and early increase of the personal injury discount rate

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