Are medical negligence claims on the rise in UK?

Claims for medical negligence are increasing at an alarming rate in the UK, and show no signs of slowing any time soon. Although claims against private cosmetic surgery clinics are also on the increase, the vast majority of these claims were against NHS Trusts, and totalled £1.3 billion in 2015 alone.
From a figure of £583 million in 2008, litigation costs have risen steadily year on year to the present total, putting the already cash strapped NHS in a situation where they have earmarked a massive £26.1 billion to cover present and future successful claims. That amounts to almost 25% of the government’s annual £113 billion NHS funding.
It depends very much on which side of the fence you stand, when it comes to the reasons why the NHS Litigation Authority sets aside this amount of money to defend claims, and pay damages.
Health Service Failings
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers believes increasing claims shouldn’t come as any big surprise. They point to increasing pressure on nursing staff, a big shortage of properly qualified doctors, and unattainable targets set by some of the NHS Trusts which results in inadequate medical care.
Attempted cover-ups by some NHS Trusts are also cited, along with delaying tactics by the NHS Litigation Authority, and their defending of indefensible claims which help push up the overall cost to the NHS. The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers believes a change in attitude by the NHS is needed. If the NHS accepts medical negligence has occurred, and settles cases as quickly as possible, the lawyers believe the overall cost of litigation will reduce.
No Win No Fee
For its part, the NHS Litigation Authority points a finger firmly in the direction of the increase in no-win-no-fee cases, and the lawyers taking them on. The Health Service maintains greater numbers of patients are pursuing claims they have little chance of winning, increasing the cost to the NHS because these cases have to be defended.
As would be expected the NHS don’t accept that care levels have suffered, yet there are widely reported cases where bad practise or misdiagnosis has resulted in death, without so much as a letter of apology from the health trust concerned.
The answer to reducing this increasing cost in medical negligence cases probably lies somewhere in the middle. The NHS needs to accept mistakes are made, and work with the lawyers to set damages totals, and reduce legal costs as quickly as possible. For their part, no-win-no-fee criminal negligence lawyers need to look more closely at claims. It should be a part of their job to decide whether there is a genuine case to answer, or whether the client is motivated purely by a nothing to lose and everything to gain mind-set.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *