Tackle the errors not the victims

Vincents Solicitors responds to calls for claims cap

Calls for medical negligence compensation claims to be capped and reduced would be an ‘affront’ to claimants and worsen their suffering according to a Lancashire solicitor.

A letter to Justice Secretary David Gauke from a group of health chiefs - including the NHS Confederation and the British Medical Association - asks the government to limit payments.

The letter quotes research purporting to show £1.7billion was paid out in 2017, money which they say is being diverted from front line care. To put this into context, the 2017/18 NHS budget is estimated to be in the region of £124billion.

But this cash is not merely disappearing, it is being used to help victims of medical negligence, and their families, rebuild their lives following negligent surgery, misdiagnosis or other errors by health service staff.

Olivia Robinson, Director and Head of the Clinical Negligence department at Vincents Solicitors said:

“Any debate on this issue should begin and end with the individual patients whose lives are irrevocably altered as a result of a negligent action by a member of the health service.

“Too many claimants suffer life changing injuries as a result of such errors. They should be rightfully able to make a claim, to receive money which often has to compensate for loss of an income, or help with further treatment, care, home adaptations, wheelchairs, etc. Without this financial support for their needs, their suffering is undoubtedly worse.

“To make this issue a battle between front line services and legitimate claimants who have been failed by the health service, is an affront to victims. It is not their fault a mistake has been made and their aftercare is no less valid than the front line care of the next patient.

"Those patients have gone into hospital with an expectation of being helped. Many millions of people receive fantastic care every single day. But, in circumstances when things do go wrong, there absolutely has to be a proper avenue to recover the correct level of compensation.

"The cost of claims is only a small percentage of the overall NHS budget, around 1.3% - so it is ridiculous to say that claims are harming the NHS.

“If the NHS and other bodies want to see that cost come down, then the responsibility lies with the health provider reducing the number and severity of errors being made.

"Many doctors and nurses would argue that more errors occur because there are staff shortages and because of the ever increasing burden on the health service. This is the issue that needs to be addressed. Tackle the errors, not the victims."