The annual cost to NHS England for settling clinical negligence claims is expected to double by 2023, according to a report from the Medical Protection Society (MPS).
The MPS, which supports medical professionals, is calling for urgent reform, saying the situation has reached a tipping point.
The organisation is warning that further increases in the £1.5bn bill will be unsustainable and will divert significant amounts of funding away from frontline patient care.
The MPS study, entitled, The Rising Costs of Clinical Negligence: Who Pays the Price? – agrees that there should be reasonable compensation for victims of medical negligence, but compensation awards will have to be balanced against society’s ability to afford it.
The decision by the then justice secretary, Liz Truss, to reduce the personal injury discount rate could also add an additional £1.2bn a year to the cost of settling claims.
NHS Resolution, formerly known as the NHS Litigation Authority, has estimated that the total liability for medical negligence cases already being handled could be as much as £56.1bn.
The MPS is proposing the introduction of legal reforms it believes could reduce the compensation bills. These would include:
- Limit care costs based on a tariff agreed by experts.
- Put a cap on the number of experts in each case.
- Introduce a 10-year limit on claims.
- Use national average earnings rather than individual patient earnings to calculate damages.
- Impose a fixed recoverable costs scheme for claims up to £250,000.
Emma Hallinan, director of claims at the MPS said: “It is important that there is reasonable compensation for patients harmed following clinical negligence, but a balance must be struck against society’s ability to pay. If the current trend continues the balance will tip too far and the cost risks becoming unsustainable for the NHS and ultimately for society.
“This is without doubt a difficult debate to have, but difficult decisions are made about spending in healthcare every day and we have reached a point where the amount society pays for clinical negligence must be one of them.
“When considering the financial challenges facing the NHS and the change to the personal injury discount rate – which has increased the cost of compensation for clinical negligence, exacerbating an already challenging situation – there has never been a more pertinent time to tackle the root of the problem.”
If you suffered due to medical negligence, Mackrell and Thomas could help you to claim the compensation that you deserve. Our team of expert personal injury advisors are here to offer confidential, no-obligation advice. Visit our personal injury page to learn more information.