The National Audit Office (NAO) conducted an investigation that revealed that the NHS has wasted £56 billion fighting medical negligence claims. Surprisingly, this is more than twice the amount put aside for compensation back in 2014. With this in consideration, one may wonder if the NHS is wrong to defend so many clinical negligence claims. Think about it, the department is probably losing more than it has planned for.
These findings by NAO will be presented to the parliament next summer. You most definitely would want to learn why the costs are soaring, so would the parliament. Authorities would also want to know what the NHS litigation is doing and if it is enough to manage the costs.
Reports indicate that the NHS Litigation Authority is losing 75% of the cases it contests, no wonder the huge amount of money ends up being wasted. According to studies the department could save up to £150 million in a year alone should it opt to settle these cases at earlier stages. Remember, however, the NHS has a ‘defend, deny and delay’ policy. Most people who understand the effects of delay in losing claim cases would flinch at the sound of delay.
Think about the £2,650 which is the average cost to the NHS of settling a case at an early stage. This could rise to around £18,000 if it gets dragged through courts. That is how powerful delay is.
Richard Bacon, the Conservative MP explained that most people just want acceptance of where the responsibility lies and not necessarily the financial compensation when suing. This, nevertheless, is the opinion of the MP which makes sense to a group of people and doesn’t to another.
Indeed, the NHS main focus should be on the safety of the patient instead of trying to slash down litigation costs. A strong argument still exists that patients are definitely the primary concern. Should this be considered, there would be fewer medical negligence claim cases and they would be less serious, so relatively less settling costs.
Inez Brown, a partner and solicitor at Medical Accident Group who holds the award of Partner of the Year at the Birmingham Law Society commented on the issue. She talked of the NHS policy to defend the indefensible as a worry for both the NHS and the taxpayer. Brown concurred with what MP Richard Bacon said. She also said they a most of the claimants just want an apology from the NHS rather than being dragged and burdened into a lengthy court battle. She added that no patient who has suffered clinical negligence from a medical facility wants to be a burden on NHS funds.
Inez, nevertheless, explained that the NHS Trust set up owes the patients a duty of care to offer appropriate treatment. Failure to that they owe the patient a ‘duty of candor’ to admit the made mistakes and appropriately recompense. According to Sir Frances, Trusts are still not communicating with patients and admitting that there was clinical negligence. If they could, it would save them a lot of costs in these claims, so again, is the NHS wrong to defend so many medical negligence claims?