News is expected from the committee of MPs which is looking at reforms to the system for claiming compensation against the NHS when patients suffer avoidable harm.
In the build-up to the publication of the health and social select committee’s report on the case for reform of NHS litigation, Mike Benner, Chief Executive of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers said that any such scheme would ultimately cost the NHS more money and prevent trusts from learning what mistakes have been made.
Benner said “There is a raft of reasons why a no-fault scheme in the UK is a bad move for patients, the NHS, and society as a whole. No-fault schemes in New Zealand and Sweden have been cited as models to which to aspire. But what may work there will not work here. The feasibility of a no-fault scheme has been explored and abandoned many times before, including most recently in Scotland.
There would inevitably be an increase in the number of claims if the need to prove negligence is removed and compensation payments would need to be much lower to make the system affordable. This means that patients injured as a result of negligence will not receive full compensation, the importance of which is explained in our research report The Value of Compensation.
Comparisons with other no-fault models, such as the one in Sweden, fail to take into consideration the considerable difference in spending on social care and benefits. Spending per head on benefits for sick, injured, and disabled people in Sweden is more than double that of the UK*. To introduce such a model in the UK would not only deprive vulnerable patients of full and fair compensation, but then leave them in the hands of a social care and benefits system which is ill-equipped to look after them. It would only compound the injustice.
Some commentators have hailed no-fault systems as positive because they take the focus away from the actions of doctors and other medics, reducing stress for all and leading to less defensive behaviour. But this can lead to less accountability which means that, although compensation will be paid (albeit at a reduced level) lessons will not be learned and failures will be repeated. The NHS would not be any safer than it is now, perhaps less so. And, in any event, it should be obvious that the way to reduce the NHS’s bill for compensating injured patients is to stop harming them in the first place.
And finally, a two-tier system will be created in which patients will receive less than 100 per cent compensation for their medical injuries, while people injured needlessly in car crashes and at work will be compensated fully. That cannot be right.”
Most patients want to understand what happened to them or their loved ones and to make sure that avoidable harm is avoided in the future and as well as providing compensation and a sense of justice for injured patients and families, clinical negligence litigation provides an opportunity to improve patient safety and importantly to learn from cases where fault is not recognised initially.
But when an incident does occur our After the Event Insurance can be used to help those who have suffered as a result of Clinical Negligence.
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External link: The value of Compensation