NHS negligence payouts hit record high

THE cost of NHS litigation claims hit a record £1.3billion this year, according to new figures.

A report from the NHS Litigation Authority showed the value of payouts for clinical and non-clinical claims in 2011-2012 increased by 46 per cent from last year’s bill of £911million. Compensation for patients harmed due to clinical negligence totalled £1.28billion with the remaining sum related to cases such as patients and staff slipping and falling in hospitals or other NHS buildings.

Claims worth a further £304million were settled to be paid out through “periodical payment orders” – an increase of more than 26 per cent on the previous year.

The number of new claims received by NHSLA last year rose by six per cent to 13,761 compared to 13,001 the previous year. And while a significant increase, the report noted this was a lower rise than in each of the previous three years.

NHSLA and legal experts believe the increase in claims can be attributed to a greater awareness amongst patients of their right to compensation as well as increased use of conditional fee agreements, known as “no win, no fee” deals. Solicitors received £230million last year for fighting negligence claims.

An NHSLA spokesman told the Daily Mail: “[The rise is] certainly believed to be partly due to the impact of conditional fee agreements – what you and I know as no win, no fee. It’s making it much more profitable for solicitors to handle these cases. They are making it known to people who have a right to claim that they can help them with that.”

A Department of Health spokesman added: “The vast majority of the millions of people seen by the NHS experience good-quality, safe and effective care. However, if patients do not receive the treatment they should and mistakes are made, it is right that they are entitled to seek compensation.”

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