Urgent action needed to curb compensation payouts, says MDU

The MDU has responded to the publication of NHS Resolution’s annual report for 2017/18, which shows its balance sheet provisions have almost trebled to £77 billion in four years.

Dr Christine Tomkins, Medical Defence Union (MDU) chief executive said:

'The cost of clinical negligence claims continues to spiral out of control and it is no surprise that, while NHS Resolution has seen claims numbers stabilise, in 2017/8 it paid out a record £2.23 billion compensating patients through its clinical negligence schemes. NHS Resolution's total liabilities are estimated at £77 billion, up from £65 billion last year, with the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts accounting for 93% of that provision.

'NHS Resolution chair Ian Dilks attributes £4.5bn of the additional liabilities to the fall in the personal injury discount rate (PIDR) from March 2017. The MDU has seen the dramatic effect of the 3.25% PIDR decrease on GP claims too. NHS Resolution has already made individual compensation awards worth well over £20 million, a sum which would have been unthinkable until quite recently.

'These increases in claims payments are nothing to do with the quality of clinical care, which remains high. They are a result of a hostile legal climate. Awards of this size, paid from NHS funds, are damaging for everyone who uses the NHS and cannot be sustained if we want the NHS to survive.

'The government is listening. Following criticism from both the National Audit Office and the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee the Department of Health and Social Care convened a working group to look at the how to manage the cost of clinical negligence to the NHS. But what we now need, in the interest of all users of the NHS, is urgent legal reform.

'One of the topics on the table is repeal of S2(4) of the Law Reform (Personal Injuries) Act 1948, which still requires all clinical negligence defendants to fund compensation on the basis it will be used for private, not NHS care, even though there is no guarantee that is how the money will be spent. The MDU has been campaigning for this legal change and others, such as fixing claimant's legal fees and reforming the personal injury discount rate.

'It would be a fitting birthday present for the NHS if balance could be restored to a system which is so out of kilter that it is putting the NHS under unbearable strain.'

This page was correct at publication on 13/07/2018. 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.

You may also be interested in

News

COVID-19

The Medical Defence Union (MDU) is working with doctors to answer any medico-legal queries about coronavirus (COVID-19).

Read more
News

Doctors turn to MDU for reassurance in record numbers during pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has led to record numbers of doctors seeking support and advice with medico-legal and membership queries, the Medical Defence Union (MDU) said today.

Read more
News

GPs advised by the MDU to be mindful of signs and symptoms of malignant melanoma

The Medical Defence Union (MDU) is advising GPs to be aware of the signs and symptoms of melanoma in an article featured in the latest edition of the MDU journal.

Read more