MDU supports call for urgent Government action on spiralling clinical negligence costs

The Medical Defence Union (MDU) said a report calling on the Government to get a grip on the spiralling costs of clinical negligence claims means the problem can no longer be ignored.

Today's report by the Public Accounts Committee into the National Audit Office's report on Managing the costs of clinical negligence in the NHS concludes the Government has been sluggish in its response to these predictable rising costs which are taking scarce resources away from frontline services and patients.

The report includes the recommendation that: 'The Department, the Ministry of Justice, and NHS Resolution must take urgent and coordinated action to address the rising costs of clinical negligence. This includes reviewing whether current legislation remains adequate, and reporting back to the Committee by April 2018…'

Dr Matthew Lee, MDU professional services director said: 'We welcome this recommendation. It cannot come a moment too soon and we will be happy to contribute on behalf of members to the review by the Department of Health and Ministry of Justice.

'For too long inflation-busting rises in the cost of clinical negligence claims have been allowed to continue unchecked. At the MDU we have long argued that only radical legal reform will halt the rising costs of claims, but recent legal changes have made the problem worse rather than better. For example, the change to the discount rate earlier this year when it dropped to its lowest in history, immediately doubled the cost of some claims. A high value claim previously worth around £8m may well reach over £17m now.

'The annual cost of clinical negligence for trusts has quadrupled over the last decade—£0.4 billion in 2006–07 to £1.6 billion in 2016–17.

'Payment of NHS claims under the current system diverts huge amounts of money from patient care and must not be allowed to continue. The situation is particularly concerning NHS GPs as it affects them personally. They must meet the costs of indemnity themselves. We urge the government to quickly move forward with a coordinated policy approach. The law must be changed and clinical negligence claims must be funded in a fair and proportionate way.'

This guidance was correct at publication 01/12/2017. It 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.

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