As more people cut back on private health insurance as a consequence of losing their jobs and general tightening of household budgets, the number of NHS patients is increasing rapidly.
As a result, there has been a significant rise in the number of claims filed against the NHS for medical negligence.
And the figures are still growing. Within just 12 months, at least £83 million has been spent to cover the number of medical negligence payouts in the hospitals and health centers across Yorkshire alone.
According to Cameron Fyfe, a leading solicitor specializing in litigation, the increase in the number of medical negligence claims being made is because “more mistakes are being made.” He stated that one of the reasons for the number of claims being made increasing is that “more mistakes are being made. More and more people are receiving treatment and, because of the pressure on the NHS, mistakes are bound to be made.”
Luckily, in these times, when mistakes are made, patients can be compensated for their injuries. The system works in favor of the patient and this is better for providing a high standard of health care to all users of the NHS.
Claims settled late
Yet according to the Yorkshire Post, the NHS Medical Keyboards large amount paid out is because a majority of the payments had been settled years after they were filed. And with Yorkshire’s health bodies facing approximately 1,000 claims each year, calls for a new compensation system to ensure victims are compensated at earlier stages with smaller sums being spent on legal costs are being argued. Yet according to a top medical negligence lawyer, in a majority of the cases, lawyers had only received “a tiny figure” from the amount compensated in comparison to the billions lost by the NHS through medical errors.
Furthermore, according to statistics from the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA), between 2007 to 2008, a total of £18.2 million was paid out in compensation for medical negligence claims made against Yorkshire and Humberside Health Authority. And to make matters worse, it is expected that figures could increase as the value of claims grow.
Value of claims increase
Blaming the increase in claims on the carelessness of the NHS, Peter Walsh, of charity, Action Against Medical Accidents stated that the figures could increase as the value of claims grows. He said: “None of these costs would be incurred at all if we avoided the mistakes from happening in the first place.” Because of the growing number of claims filed against the NHS along with the increasing costs, the British Medical Association (BMA) is also calling for a new compensation system in regards to medical negligence claims.
Currently, the cash intended for compensation payouts is coming directly from the NHSLA and not from the health body’s budget. However, the bodies do have to make an annual payment to the NHSLA. The new system, if passed, will not allocate blame to a particular health body and will set a limitation on the size of compensation.
A spokesperson from the BMA said: “It is important that patients have a right to make their complaints and, where appropriate, receive compensation. However, the current system is cumbersome and expensive and takes money away from direct patient care. Without action to address this problem the alternative is that doctors will increasingly practice defensive medicine and hold back on some treatments for fear of legal action. This would not be in the best interests of the patient.”
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