MDDUS defends doctors in debate on litigation costs

MDDUS chief executive Chris Kenny has moved to defend GPs following claims by the health secretary that safer care was "the only way" to reduce spiralling litigation costs.

Jeremy Hunt made the comments in the House of Commons recently in response to a question from John Pugh MP who asked if NHS litigation costs – which rose to £1.4 billion last year – were "anything like under control?"

Mr Hunt said the issue was "a very big concern", adding: "The only way, in the long run, to reduce those litigation costs is to have safer care. That is why the Government have prioritised safety in everything we do."

But Mr Kenny criticised Mr Hunt’s position.

"The Secretary of State’s claim that all that is needed to reduce NHS litigation costs is safer care is no more than half the story," he said.

"Around three-quarters of claims against GPs are rebutted without damages being paid and claimant lawyers’ costs in paid claims regularly run at six or more times that spent by defenders.

"So, it is clear that action is also needed to control legal costs beyond the Government’s current welcome but mild proposals, but also to reform tort law and to avoid precipitate changes to the discount rate based on a seriously out-of-date consultation and much-changed economic circumstances. It is time for comprehensive, joined-up thinking in this area."

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