Government ‘must stop clinical negligence claims spiralling out of control’

4 Dec 17

The government should do more to stop NHS clinical negligence claims “spiralling out of control”, a group of MPs has said.

The cost of clinical negligence has quadrupled over the last decade from £0.4bn in 2006-07 to £1.6bn in 2016-17, the report from the Public Accounts Committee highlighted.  

It is taking away “scarce resources” from services and patients, the document out last week said, and not enough information is being gathered to tackle the problem and find out why claims were made.

 “The lack of consistent data across the system means that the NHS still does not fully understand why some people suffering harm choose to make claims or the root causes of negligence, so it is not placed to learn from its mistakes,” the report said.

It urged the government to address the costs by reviewing the current legislation and reporting back by April 2018, as well as continue its focus to reduce patient harm and address the legal costs of claims.

The committee’s report said the increased financial pressures on the health system had started to affect waiting times and the quality of care, with almost 40% of claims against trusts related to a failure of delay to diagnose or treat a patient.

From 2006–07 to 2016–17, the number of negligence claims registered with NHS Resolution each year doubled, from 5,300 to 10,600, while the estimated cost of settling future claims has risen from £51bn in 2015-16 to £60bn the year after, the PAC report said.

The head of the National Audit Office, which revealed the clinical negligence figures in a report in September, said: “The cost of clinical negligence in trusts is significant and rising fast, placing increasing financial pressure on an already stretched system.”

The funds set aside to deal with these claims has been draining the NHS of funds and putting more patients at risk, according to a report from the think-tank Centre for Policy Studies earlier this year.

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