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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 It is mainly the result of economic pressure and an outdated legal system, meaning compensation must be calculated on the basis of private rather than NHS care.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.
The annual cost to the NHS of clinical negligence claims has more than quadrupled between 2006/2007 and 2022/2023 from £0.6 billion to £2.6 billion. Estimates published in 2023 put the total cost of outstanding NHS compensation claims at £69.6 billion.
NHS money that could go straight to frontline patient care will have to fund compensation awards instead.
This is why the MDU, 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.
Fairer for society. Fairer for the NHS. Fairer for taxpayers.
In the UK, damages are intended to be compensatory, not punitive, and should cover what is necessary to put the claimant (patient) in the position they would have been in if the negligence had 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.