In evidence to the Health and Social Care Committee inquiry into NHS litigation reform, the Medical Defence Union (MDU), the UK's leading provider of medical indemnity, put the eye-watering £2.2 billion bill for NHS clinical negligence payments in England into context.
It predicted that the national insurance tax levy of 8.7 million people earning £30,000 and paying an extra £255 a year in tax would be needed to fund the amounts paid out in claims this year alone - money which could otherwise be spent on frontline patient care.
Dr Michael Devlin, MDU head of professional standards and liaison, said:
"The MDU has been sounding the alarm about the cost of compensation claims against the NHS for years, so we are relieved that the Health and Social Care Committee is examining the case for NHS litigation reform.
"Amounts being paid out in compensation annually are spiralling, increasing nearly 50% in the last five years from £1.48 billion to £2.2 billion last year. At the same time, funding is urgently needed for frontline patient care, to meet the demand for social care and to tackle the elective surgery backlog.
"With the NHS facing a funding crisis, we simply cannot sit by any longer and ignore numbers like £2.2 billion. The government must grasp the nettle and reform the system surrounding clinical negligence, so that it is fairer and mirrors society's ability to pay.
"Reforms to the system for compensating patients could make a significant difference. One example is the need to ensure payments for long term care are based on the cost of NHS care rather than private care, as is currently the case.
"Clinical negligence claims are not an indicator of poor medical standards. Nevertheless, legal reforms must go hand in hand with improvements in patient safety. A learning culture in which incidents are thoroughly investigated and lessons learned and shared must be fostered."
This page was correct at publication on 25/10/2021. 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.