Will the Proposed Changes to Medical Negligence Claims Improve Patient Care and Standards in the NHS?
In a series of blogs, Jennie Jones discusses proposed changes in medical negligence claims and the impact on patients and the NHS.
In 2015 the government announced it would be consulting on plans to limit the legal costs that would be paid by the NHS in negligence claims. Now, while initial thoughts are: ‘Great, this money could be spent on more nurses, doctors and equipment’, would this be the answer to solve the financial strain on NHS trusts’ and more importantly, improve patient care? Is it a more important issue to consider why these amounts are being paid in the first place?
2. The Mistakes Occur
A person is only entitled to compensation if the care provided is negligent and this negligence has caused them harm. There is one area of claims which demonstrates the real purpose and legal right to claim compensation for medical negligence: obstetric, birth related claims. In 2014 the NHS paid almost half a billion pounds to compensate children and families where mistakes during birth resulted in brain damage. This money is paid to help provide those children care, support and meet their special needs. It is not a windfall or a quick buck to pay for a holiday. The compensation is assessed to try and make their lives as normal as possible. However, it does nothing to fix the pain and distress experienced by those families. Should the priority not be to stop the errors in the first place? Limiting legal costs will not improve matters for those families. Read tomorrow's blog when Jennie Jones discusses the complexity of most medical negligence claims.