The UK government is considering legal reforms to try and resolve the high cost of medical negligence claims and the crippling effects it is having on the NHS.
A defence union has revealed a 6-point plan which would make significant legal changes to the current clinical negligence system in the NHS. This plan includes the following points:
- Reform is needed where the Repeal of Section 2(4) of the 1948 Law Reform Act (which predates the NHS) stipulates that NHS patients should be compensated for damage caused by negligence on the basis that all their future care will be provided in the private healthcare sector.
- Personal injury defendants should be able to purchase health and social care from public providers.
- Patients with the same condition should have the same care available to them. However, the condition was caused. An independent body should set a standard package of health and social care, which all with the same disability will receive.
- Currently, medical negligence claims can be brought up to 40 years after the event; this should be reformed to bring in an ultimate litigation period.
- There should be a cap on how much can be claimed on the grounds of future loss of earnings which can currently run into millions of pounds.
- There should be a personal injury discount in line with how the damages are spent or invested, which requires evidence.
The chief executive of a defence union outlined this plan while speaking at an event for the NHS Confederation and Academy of Medical Royal Colleges in November 2018. She said that the current legal system promotes and incentivises litigation over other ways of resolving disputes and claims and that urgent reform was needed. According to Dr. Tomkins, the NHS’s 2017/18 annual report shows that over a 4 year period, medical negligence claims in England alone have trebled to £77 billion. Dr. Tomkins believes that the ‘current system is not working.’
She said: ‘The effect on patients is that doctors are deterred from high risk, high cost activities in private and general practice, and in NHS hospitals, money is being diverted to claims and away from frontline patient care. A state backed indemnity scheme for GPs is proposed to start in April 2019. But the state scheme will not address the root cause of unaffordable claims.’
Dr. Tomkins went on to state that she believes the situation has been made worse by the reduction of the personal injury discount rate to 3.25%. This happened in March 2017 and has resulted in £3.3 million being used to cover claims rather than being used to run and improve the NHS frontline services. This, she claims, has led to ‘damaged access to healthcare for all of us.’
What is Medical Negligence?
Medical negligence occurs when a medical professional causes a person injury or worsens their condition by making a mistake or providing substandard care. While the majority of medical professionals are highly and trained and provide excellent standards of care, sometimes mistakes can happen. In some cases, these mistakes can be life-changing for the patient. A successful medical negligence claim can result in enough compensation to help the patient to adapt to their new circumstances or to aid in their recovery.
If you would like to discuss a medical negligence issue that has affected you or your family, or you have been affected by this story or then it is in your best interest to get in contact with us at The Medical Negligence Experts where we can discuss your issue and help you make a claim.