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NHS Wales' compensation pay-outs almost double over last 3 years

NHS Wales have revealed that they have paid out £117m in compensation during the last three years. When in 2011/2012 the Welsh government paid an extra 15.8m into the Welsh risk pool - which works as insurance for the NHS -, increasing the total compensation costs for the NHS to a staggering £49.7m.

Is the money better spent elsewhere?

Figures released by six of the seven Welsh health boards and the ambulance service have come under fire from Welsh Liberal Democrats who feel the money should be allocated to elsewhere in the NHS, such as on extra staff or investing in new medicine. The NHS have been criticised for not learning from previous mistakes quickly enough to prevent them happening again, but it appears that new developments in compensation law and specialised care could be another reason behind the rise in NHS pay-outs.

Who’s to blame?

It has been suggested that the rise of ‘no win no fee’ lawyers has made the public more aware of their rights, more confident in pursuing a claim and created better access to legal advice.

Previously, families claiming for compensation because of issues such as obstetrical negligence would receive a one-off lump sum payment; however they now, receive a smaller lump sum and an additional annual payment. This led compensation for these types of cases to increase from an average of 4m to around 10m, and as life expectancy increases for the majority of people, an annual compensation agreement will typically last longer than it would have done previously.  

Another reason compensation payments are on the rise is the growing costs of care and specialised equipment. The law states that a pay-out must provide the claimant with enough support to return their life to what it would have been if they were without their disability, and this can in many cases prove incredibly expensive.

Desmond Hudson, chief executive of the Law Society of England and Wales said:

"Conditional fees, or no win, no fee arrangements currently provide the only method available to most victims of obtaining justice. If the government is having to place more money in the Welsh Risk Pool, this implies that negligence in Welsh hospitals is increasing, that more people are aware of the right to claim compensation or that the financial impacts of negligence - the costs of care etc. - have become even more serious".

Changes in NHS policies

The Welsh Government has introduced policies to ensure lessons are learnt from any errors made. The “Putting things right” policy promotes open transparency of mistakes made within the NHS so they can be properly investigated and staff can be educated on how to prevent the same mistakes being repeated in the future.

”1000 Lives Plus” is a national scheme with similar aims to demonstrate commitment to improving services and learning from errors made within the National Health Service.

Compensation vital to victims of clinical negligence

Despite the government’s worries about increasing claims against NHS Wales, it cannot be ignored that people receiving compensation for clinical negligence really do need these funds to help them rebuild their lives after what are traumatic and upsetting experiences.

At Fonseca & Partners we can help you with your clinical negligence or personal injury claims, and we are committed to making sure you receive the money you need to put your life back on track. If you would like to speak with one of our solicitors please contact us on 01495 303124.