Government proposals to limit the amount injured patients can recover for legal help after needless injury would put unfair restrictions on people seeking redress, patient representatives have warned.
“Justice for patients suffering needless harm must be the priority in plans to fix legal costs in clinical negligence claims,” said Suzanne Trask of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) a not-for-profit group which campaigns on behalf of injured patients and their families.
After months of speculation, a consultation* published today (31 January) proposes costs limits which fall below recommendations from patient safety lawyers.
“It is extremely disappointing that the starting point of these proposals puts a significant hurdle in the way of patients seeking the compensation they need to rebuild their lives after needless injury. This includes the families of people who have sadly died” said Ms Trask.
“If an injured patient or their family is forced into the position of having to claim compensation, something has already gone very wrong,” she went on. “Costs must allow for a proper investigation and fair resolution of a claim.”
“In its obsession with the cost of clinical negligence claims, which actually represent a tiny fraction of the NHS budget, the Government is failing to address the very patient safety issues which are at the root of clinical negligence and the costs, both financial and in human misery, which are associated with them.”
“What is clearly needed now is an independent Patient Safety Commissioner to be a champion for patients, with wide-ranging powers to look at the patchwork quilt of initiatives, reports and recommendations and use them to create a cohesive strategy to reduce needless harm to vulnerable patients.
“We still hear of shocking failures, leading to human misery. It’s only when we break the cycle of repeated investigation and reports – and carefully assess the learning taking place that we can reduce avoidable harm and the cost of putting it right.”
Notes to editors:
* Fixed recoverable costs in lower value clinical negligence claims.
- APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) is a not-for-profit organisation whose members are dedicated to campaigning for improvements in the law to help people who are injured or become ill through no fault of their own.
- For more information contact APIL's communications manager Jane Hartwell on t: 0115 943 5416, e: [email protected], or press and communications officer Iman Anthony t: 0115 943 5431, e: [email protected].
- Follow @APIL on Twitter: www.twitter.com/APIL.