Kat Lay in The Times on 26th December 2014 reports: Lawyers under attack for £250m NHS fees bonanza
With litigation costing us all around £20 per head, and rising exponentially, there will be a great advantage to the Scots if they can bring in “no fault compensation” (NFC). This was rejected by the old NHS in 1966, and has been looked at several times since then. NHSreality lists all the posts on litigation in the two years of existence. Paul Fenn looked at this in 2000 in the BMJ (Current cost of medical negligence in NHS hospitals: analysis of claims database. BMJ 2000;320:1567 ) and the number of claims and the steepness of the curve have got considerably worse in 15 years. It is ironic that whilst the “legal aid” budget has been cut, the only people who can afford to litigate are those without any means, or those on a “no win no fee” deal. Despite this, the loss to the Health Service is rising as if there was no disincentive to litigate. It might be 10 times higher if there were lower financial barriers….
NHS clinical negligence liabilities 2008/9 to 2012/13
Kat Lay says: “The NHS complaints system should be “completely overhauled” in the face of rising litigation costs that now take up a quarter of the annual £1 billion bill for clinical negligence claims, an MP is demanding.
The amount paid out by the NHS Litigation Authority has almost doubled in five years, with legal costs of £250 million. In 2009-10 the total bill for claims was £650 million, with £150 million of it going to cover legal costs….”
16th July 2013: NHS legal claims will cost £15bn, it has been warned.
The rising costs of failure: Worst hospitals cost NHS £300m (Now 12 months later it’s £1 billion!! – That’s £1,000,000,000 or £17 per person per annum)
An individual case, which might be repeated across the country, is reported in a triad of posts here, and is not yet complete in that we don’t know the final outcome. 1.Malcolm Green – Apology Angers Family 2. The Death of Malcolm Green 3.Revisiting the death of Malcolm Green. The wrong people are likely to be criticised. Not neglect!. Will the local DGH learn from this episode?
Update 30th December 2014: Letter in the Telegraph: from Dr Anthony Barton
SIR – The sharp rise in the number of negligence claims against the NHS reflects the success of privatising funding access to justice. “No win, no fee” agreements have been replacing legal aid (“Soaring legal costs will eat up Osborne’s £2bn for NHS”).
The new system provides access to justice to anyone according to the merits of the case, and regardless of means. Lawyers are paid only in successful cases. This imposes commercial discipline and financial prudence.
Legal aid was available only to a minority, and lawyers were paid regardless of the outcome – providing perverse incentives to run hopeless cases. It was a wasteful system that did not ensure access to justice for deserving cases.
Dr Anthony Barton