Huge rise in cost of clinical negligence in Northern Ireland may have been averted for now says MDU

The Medical Defence Union (MDU), the UK’s leading medical defence organisation, has welcomed news that proposals to change the way compensation claims are calculated in Northern Ireland may not now go ahead.

Dr Matthew Lee, MDU professional services director said:

"Today’s announcement from the Department of Justice that it will not set the personal injury discount rate (PIDR) in Northern Ireland at -1.75% is very welcome. The PIDR is used to calculate the sums awarded for long term care in clinical negligence claims. A change in the PIDR of that magnitude would have had a dramatic impact on NHS funding and on hardworking GPs across Northern Ireland – who are already struggling with the highest indemnity costs in any part of the UK.

"The MDU remains concerned about the Northern Ireland Executive’s ongoing proposals to reform the methodology by which the discount rate is set. Today’s announcement that a Bill will be brought to the Assembly, establishing a methodology comparable with the one used in Scotland, could see the size of high value claims more than doubling, putting massive strain on NHS resources which are already stretched to breaking point.  

"A change of that nature could also lead to individual NHS GPs (who, in Northern Ireland, have to meet their own indemnity costs) retiring early or leaving the profession – an undesirable outcome for them and their patients alike.

"We will continue to make the case to the Executive that a methodology should not rely on unsubstantiated hypothesises about investment returns. COVID-19 has put NHS resources under considerable additional pressure. Any move that could unnecessarily increase that pressure should be resisted."

This page was correct at publication on 23/10/2020. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.