£700m negligence bill for NHS6th February 2009
The NHS in England is expecting clinical negligence payouts to rise by 80% next year.
Health trusts have set aside £713m for such claims, up from the £400m for this year.
The figures have been obtained by the Conservative party, which fears that such payouts could have an impact on health budgets with the £313m increase eating into additional funding for hospitals.
The NHS Litigation Authority, which collects money every winter from health trusts to cover expected clinical negligence payouts, said part of the increase was prompted by a recent ruling in the Court of Appeal which has changed the way payments for care are calculated.
A move to more "no win no fee" cases had also increased costs.
NHS Litigation Authority chief executive Steve Walker said: "The proportion of successful claims has gone up and is rising."
Shadow health minister Mark Simmonds said that instead of a robust and fair system to enable patients who had received negligent treatment to get the compensation they deserved, the NHS had found itself with an "inefficient system which incurs vast legal costs for NHS trusts involved in legal battles."
The Medical Defence Union also called for the reform of the current system, saying that it provides solicitors' firms with rewards which "dwarf the value of a claim."
Nigel Edwards, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said: "There should be enough money in the system to pay, though some trusts are reporting a shortfall."
Over half of the total payouts are for maternity-related cases.
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Title: £700m negligence bill for NHS
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 10092
Date Added: 6th Feb 2009