Billions of pounds of NHS funds could be saved through litigation reform - MDU
Billions of pounds could be saved from precious NHS funds if the system for compensating injured patients were reformed, the Medical Defence Union (MDU) said today.
With the Liberal Democrats having announced plans to provide an extra £8bn funding to the NHS and the Chancellor promising £2bn extra for the NHS in 2015-16, the MDU says the spiralling costs of compensation to the NHS can no longer be ignored.
The MDU, the UK's leading provider of medical indemnity, believes one solution to the problem of NHS resourcing would be for the government to tackle the rapidly rising cost of NHS compensation awards. The NHS's potential liabilities for clinical negligence claims are a staggering £25.6bn.
Dr Christine Tomkins, MDU chief executive, said:
"The extra funding being pledged by political parties is very welcome, but when you consider that the NHS has potential liabilities of £25.6bn, and that clinical negligence claims inflation is rising at 10% each year, we think the government should take action now to stop money pouring out of the NHS in compensation payments.
"Billions of pounds could be saved through legal reforms including repeal of a 1948 law, which currently requires compensation to be calculated on the basis that the patient's future care will be provided privately, rather than through public providers of health and social care.
"Litigation against the NHS places a huge strain on resources. Under the current system billions of pounds of NHS funds are being used to set up one-person private care arrangements for negligently damaged patients, diverting resources from NHS care.
"The majority of the public, MPs and doctors agree that injured patients future care could be provided by the NHS, rather than privately*.
"Patients who have been negligently harmed should receive fair compensation but the requirement to fund care to be delivered in the private sector does not reflect social or financial reality. The current out of date system needs to change in the interests of all patients and taxpayers. We are calling on the government and policy makers to take this issue seriously and to act now to avoid a crisis."