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Every year medical compensation levels are rising.
Medical claims inflation is running at 8% a year, meaning the size of claims is doubling every nine years.
This is not a reflection of clinical care standards. It is the result mainly of economic pressure and an outdated legal system meaning compensation must be calculated on the basis of private rather than NHS care.
A change to the way compensation amounts are calculated has driven up costs dramatically. This means the NHS will pay out larger amounts making £37 million the highest single award to date. Estimates published in 2019 put the total cost of outstanding NHS compensation claims at over £83 billion.
NHS money which should go straight to patient care will have to fund compensation awards instead.
This is why the Medical Defence Union, the UK's leading medical defence organisation is campaigning for legal reforms.
Patients must be compensated but in a fairer more affordable way.
Join our campaign for fairer compensation.
Better for you. Better for patients.
When the MDU paid the first million pound compensation award in 1988, it caused a sharp intake of breath among doctors. Today, multi-million pound damages payments for clinical negligence claims are common.
We should not stand by and watch compensation awards running unchecked to many millions of pounds. The Government must reform clinical negligence law urgently.
Patients harmed as a result of medical negligence should be properly and fairly compensated. But this needs to be balanced against society's ability to pay. Large damages payments are no longer unusual and claims inflation is rising at an alarming rate - currently 8% per year, far higher than wage, house or retail price inflation.
The MDU sees damages doubling every nine years. A claim that costs £9 million to settle today could cost over £18 million by 2029. The dramatic rise in clinical negligence awards affects all taxpayers.
The MDU advocates a package of legal reforms to provide a fairer and more sustainable system for all:
It is very clear that the current compensation system cannot continue because society cannot afford to foot the bill for liabilities that are increasing in an uncontrolled way. There must be change.
In the UK, damages are not intended to be punitive but compensatory and should cover what is necessary to put the claimant (patient) in the position he/she would have been in had the negligence not occurred.
There are two major elements to damages awards.
In cases where a patient has suffered a serious injury as a result of negligence, such as a child with brain damage, most of the award is intended to provide funds for care for the patient's projected life span.
In addition, the defendant has to pay the costs of litigation, including costs of legal advisers and medical experts' fees for both sides.
Society cannot continue to fund spiralling compensation awards. The legal reforms the MDU suggests would address the problem. They could also provide an additional income stream of billions of pounds for NHS and local authority care at a time when both are under severe funding constraints.