Its just under £1000 each. The finances are dire and give a clear picture of the litigation tail wagging the clinical dog in the UK Health Services. It will be interesting to see if insurance premiums become differentiated for different regions of the UK. As yet they are not.. The politicians need to be honest with the public..
The NHS has paid out more than £6 billion in negligence claims in the past decade and will need more than £50 billion to pay for expected future claims.
The health service received 5,419 claims in 2006-7 and this rose to 10,965 in 2015-16. Ten years ago £666.9 million was paid by the NHS to deal with healthcare errors. In the past financial year it was forced to reserve £2.28 billion to pay for potential damages.
The NHS Litigation Authority, the body that receives the claims and pays out damages, said that despite the number of claims falling by 4.6 per cent last year, claimant legal costs had risen by 43 per cent.
It said that for the past decade there had been an increasing number of patients reporting incidents, with an increasingly litigious culture being propelled by an increase in “ ‘old-style’ no-win-no-fee agreements” with lawyers. The figures were revealed in a parliamentary question, asked by the Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb, who has argued the NHS faces an “existential crisis” in funding.
It comes as the NHS faces its biggest financial crisis, with hospital deficits reaching a record £2.5 billion last year.
In its annual report, the litigation authority calculated it would need up to £56.4 billion to cover existing and anticipated liabilities. Although the body will pay out the damages over the coming decades, the figure is the equivalent to almost half the NHS’s annual budget, which was £117.2 billion in 2015-16.
A spokesman added: “In addition, costs have been fixed for claims brought for other areas of personal injury . . . resulting in increased activity by lawyers in areas such as clinical negligence, where lawyers are remunerated at an hourly rate.”
Lisa Jordan, head of medical negligence at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Unfortunately key points of learning aren’t often shared among trusts so we often see letters of response where the NHS trust apologises and outlines what steps are being taken to prevent a recurrence but this isn’t shared more widely with other NHS trusts.”
Ms Jordan said that birth injuries, which account for about 40 per cent of all damages paid out by the NHS, remained a serious concern. “Each one is a personal tragedy often involving major brain damage and other injuries,” she said. “The number of these claims is not reducing and more radical action and response is required to reduce incidence.”
Richard Lodge, a clinical negligence lawyer at Kingsley Napley, said: “Not enough funds are being put into frontline services to ensure that patients receive the best care. Too often it is junior doctors who are left to cover high demand times with no access to specialist registrar for guidance.”
A Department of Health spokesman said: “Some lawyers have used patient claims to charge unscrupulous and excessive costs to the NHS.”