When patients decide to investigate a potential claim for compensation because they have been injured due to medical negligence, the vast majority of claims relate to treatment under an NHS Trust. The Defendant body for hospital Trusts is the NHS Litigation Authority, but this has recently been renamed to NHS Resolution.
But what’s in a name?
The idea behind the re-branding is to reflect an apparent change in approach to resolve claims more quickly and to learn lessons when mistakes happen.
But it takes more than a change in name to achieve this. The proof will be in the pudding but from my reading of the website of the newly branded organisation, I have grave doubts about any real change in attitude towards claimants.
The stated “Purpose” of NHS Resolution on their website includes the following statements:
- Negligence comes at significant personal and financial cost for the NHS, not all of which is visible.
- Healthcare staff can be deeply affected when they are involved in an incident. The indemnity schemes we run minimise unnecessary cost and spread this over time. They provide economies of scale and offer the best possible value in the expert management of claims for compensation. This protects patients by preserving funds for care.
- Our strategy envisages doing more, to save more money for patient care and to work with, and through others, to drive improvement.
- Saving money for patient care by the robust defence of claims where no compensation is due, including testing cases at trial and in the higher courts.
- Challenging over-charging by claimant lawyers, fighting fraud and excessive claims for compensation
- Moving upstream to provide support closer to the incident with learning and local resolution.
- Reducing legal costs by keeping cases out of formal court proceedings and deploying alternative models for dispute resolution.
- Increased insight into what drives the costs of harm and developing interventions to respond to these, in partnership with others.
But where is the acknowledgement of the personal and financial cost to claimants and why is the emphasis on apparent over charging, fraud and “excessive claims for compensation” rather than preventing the same mistakes happening again and again.
I will be pleased to report if I begin to see a genuine change in approach but so far I am facing the same delays in obtaining admissions from Trusts where the negligence is as clear as day.
Gill Edwards is a senior clinical negligence solicitor with Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about clinical negligence issues and making a claim against the NHS and wish to speak with Gill or any other member of the team please contact us on 0161 237 5888.