Cutting damages for injured babies whose futures have been destroyed by negligence is not the solution to the patient safety crisis in the NHS, a leading campaign group has warned today.
The parliamentary Health and Social Care Committee has recommended the introduction of an ‘administrative’ scheme for compensating injured patients, initially for birth injury. The scheme would remove the need to prove there has been negligence in patient care before compensation is paid for an injury.
“This move would create a huge increase in the number of claims against the NHS,” said Guy Forster of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL). “The only way that would be sustainable would be to reduce dramatically the level of damages people would be able to claim.
“That would undermine the principle of full and fair compensation for people who are injured through the negligence of others and that is completely unacceptable.
“It is often forgotten that behind the statistics are real people and families who have been harmed when they should not have been,” he went on. “The purpose of compensation is to help them to try to get their lives back on track.”
Mr Forster also made the point that NHS patients who suffer devastating medical negligence should not be expected to accept further treatment from the same provider which has already let them down, or rely on the over-stretched system of State-funded care.
“It is naïve, in the extreme, to suggest that our already over-burdened NHS and social care system is capable of providing the care these patients need,” he said.
“The system was often notoriously slow, even before the additional burden of the covid pandemic. Relying on the State to pick up the pieces of negligence in the current climate would be nothing less than catastrophic for both injured patients and the NHS.”
Note to editors:
- Guy Forster was reacting to NHS Litigation Reform, a report published by the parliamentary Health and Social Care Committee under embargo (not for publication or broadcast in any form before 00.01 Thursday 28 April 2022).
- Mr Forster is a specialist in clinical negligence and gave oral evidence to the committee’s inquiry.
- According to NHS Resolution claims data covering the period 2006/07 and 2020/21:
Between 2018/19 and 2020/21, the cost of clinical negligence claims fell by 8%.
Claimant legal costs have fallen by 13% since 2016/17.
- The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) is a not-for-profit campaign group which has been committed to injured people for more than 30 years. Our vision is of a society without needless injury but, when people are injured, they receive the justice they need to rebuild their lives. We have more than 3,200 members who are committed to supporting the association’s aims, and all are signed up to APIL’s code of conduct and consumer charter. Membership comprises mostly solicitors, along with barristers, legal executives, paralegals and some academics.
- For more information contact APIL's communications manager Jane Hartwell on t: 07541 490988, e: [email protected].
- Follow @APIL on Twitter: www.twitter.com/APIL.