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The NHS is spending more on clinical negligence claims than ever before

Surgical instruments photo [via pixabay]Reports of clinical negligence claims against the NHS are all too common in the media, and they have begun appearing more frequently in recent months. This has led to investigations about patient healthcare within the NHS, and earlier this month, the publication of data collected by the Department of Health has revealed the true extent of the problem. In just over four years, the amount of compensation paid out by the NHS Litigation Authority for medical negligence claims has increased by almost 40%, from £863 million in 2010/11 to £1.1 billion in the most recent statistics.

A growing concern

The rise in clinical negligence claims has become an increasing concern, particularly over the last year. In July 2014, an NHS report revealed that claims were up by almost 18% in a year while in November 2014, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt blamed poor levels of care in the NHS for the high cost of litigation cases. The NHS crisis has been brewing over the last four years as more demands are placed on the health service, and with a national bed and staff shortage hitting many hospitals hard across the UK, the increase in the number of clinical negligence claims being filed against the service hardly seems surprising.

Health crisis worsened under the Coalition government

The number of claims against the NHS has now reached record highs, rising from 6,562 cases in 2009/10 to 11,945 cases in the last financial year (2013/14), revealing that the number of litigation claims has almost doubled in the last four years. In response to this rising figure, the NHS has had to increase the amount it puts aside to deal with clinical negligence claims from £8.7 billion in 2010 to £15.6 billion in 2013/14. According to Shadow Health Minister Andrew Gwynne, this is an expense that the NHS can ill-afford to pay. He argues that the healthcare system is struggling to cope on its existing budget, and that it is patient care that suffers the most when ministers cut nursing jobs.

With the upcoming general election taking place in May, the NHS is likely to be a major topic of debate as political parties lobby for votes and reveal their plans to improve the current service. However, a recent statement by the MDU, the leading medical defence organisation in the UK, has indicated that a litigation reform could be all that is needed to save the NHS a great deal of money. Currently, compensation is awarded to individuals claiming for clinical negligence on the basis that their future care will be provided for privately, rather than through public health service institutions such as the NHS. The MDU argues that with legal reforms, including the repeal of the 60-year-old law that governs these compensation requirements, the NHS could save billions of pounds that could then be channelled into the organisation to improve services and patient care.

Victims of clinical negligence should be compensated

Despite the increase, clinical negligence is, thankfully, not one of the most common forms of personal injury claims – that title falls to injuries sustained through road traffic accidents or accidents at work – but when it does happen, the consequences can be life-altering, or even life-threatening. Here at Fonseca Law, we have the expert legal knowledge needed to advise you and help you navigate through the often complex area of law that clinical negligence claims fall under. Establishing liability for a clinical negligence claim can be more complicated than for any other personal injury, but our team of experienced solicitors are here to help you with your case.

If you have been injured as a result of negligent medical care or of a misdiagnosis that led to a more serious illness, you may be entitled to compensation. Simply contact us on 0800 156 0770 or email us at enquiries@fonsecalaw.co.uk and we’ll be happy to discuss your claim with you.