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Clinical negligence claims in the NHS

Sizzling LEO | 6:08 AM | 0 comments

Clinical negligence claims against the NHS are handled by the NHS Litigation Authority. This body helps to reduce the stress and complexity of these court cases and reduces the amount of money claimants have to spend on medical negligence solicitors. Currently, less than 2% of all the cases it handles are settled in court - the overwhelming majority are settled amicably outside of court, or end up being abandoned by claimants. Alternative dispute resolution strategies, such as mediation, can also be handled by this authority.

The NHS Litigation Authority also provides insurance and indemnity cover for the NHS, helps the organisation understand health and safety regulations and complete risk management procedures, shares lessons from medical negligence claims and provides additional professional and legal services for the UK's public sector healthcare providers. The Department of Health and the NHS also use the authority to receive legal advice on a huge range of issues, including employment law, equal pay regulations and discrimination legislation.

Independent NHS care providers can also receive indemnity cover from the organisation, following amendments made to the body. As it operates as a not-for-profit organisation, its insurance and claims cover rates are very competitive, and a huge majority of cases are resolved out-of-court to minimise costs.

How much money is spent on clinical negligence claims?

Clinical negligence claims represent the highest cost of liabilities provisions in the Whole of Government Accounts (WGA). According to data from the National Audit Office, this expense saw WGA provisions of £17.5 billion in the year to March 31st 2012, with around £8 billion earmarked for known claims and the rest provided to claims as yet unreported.

Generally, this cash goes towards the work of the UK's NHS Litigation Authority, which manages alleged medical negligence claims in England's NHS hospitals. This body had a total clinical negligence claim provision of £18.9 billion as of March 31st 2012. It also makes payouts for other expenses not relating to medical negligence, such as property damage, third party liabilities and other costs, but these are typically far less expensive than those relating to medical negligence. For example, in 2010 to 2011, the authority spent just £48 million on non-clinical negligence claims, compared with £863 million on clinical negligence claims.
Why are provisions so much higher than the total value of all medical negligence compensation payouts? The government provides higher provisions as it expects to have to pay out these costs following expenses arising from previous events. However, not all victims of clinical negligence make a compensation claim, and not all payouts are as large as had been expected. The government takes a 'better safe than sorry' approach and ensures that there is plenty of money earmarked for medical negligence claims, so the victims of inappropriate healthcare will not face any financial losses.

National Audit Office data also revealed that a total of 8,700 clinical negligence claims were made against the NHS or related bodies between 2010 and 2011. This indicates that medical negligence solicitors are busier than ever - from 2009 to 2010, this figure was just 6,700. The NHS Litigation Authority suggested that this increase is due to faster reporting rates, as well as a higher number of incidents being converted into medical negligence claims.

Does this mean my medical negligence compensation case will be likely to succeed?

Despite the fact that the government earmarks plenty of money for clinical negligence compensatio, the NHS Litigation Authority takes great care to ensure this cash only goes where it is needed. Any claims it feels lack merit will be defended robustly, and the organisation will do all it can to limit the size of any settlements.
This means it can be very advantageous for claimants to receive the help of medical negligence solicitors. The NHS Litigation Authority might do all it can to prevent people from receiving the money they require, and it can be helpful for claimants to have legal experts on their side in order to increase the overall value of any settlements.
If you have been the victim of clinical negligence, it will therefore be beneficial for you to seek legal help when claiming for compensation. Receiving the advice of clinical negligence solicitors will ensure you are prepared for any problems you might face and that you can adequately demonstrate the validity of your claim. It will also help you to maximise your eventual pay-out and ensure you receive anything else you may desire relating to your case, such as apologies, explanations and assurances that the same issue will not occur again.


Belinda is a writer and reporter who focus on clinical negligence claims and other healthcare issues. She is particularly interested in government legislation and the ways in which these initiatives impact the NHS and the wider healthcare sector clinical negligence compensation. She lives in London with his wife and children, and in her downtime she likes to play cricket at her local sports club.


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