New 'no-fault' system when making clinical negligence claim in discussion by MPs
Ministers are looking to overhaul of the ‘outdated’ system of clinical negligence compensation within the NHS when patients suffer avoidable harm.
They are comparing the alternative system in other countries where families do not have to prove negligence before they can receive damages but, instead, have to prove avoidability and that something went wrong in order to make a clinical negligence claim.
There is doubt as to whether this ‘no-fault’ system is a good move for patients in the UK who have suffered an injury whilst under the NHS. It is likely there would be an increase in the number of claims if the need to prove the patient has suffered negligence is eliminated. Also, in order to make the system affordable, the compensation pay-outs would be much lower, meaning patients would not receive the full amount they are entitled to.
Some argue the ‘no-fault’ systems are better as they take blame away from the actions of doctors which reduces their individual stress levels and 'defensive' behaviour. However, some counter-argue this means that lessons would not be learned and failures would be repeated, resulting in an NHS that is no safer that it is now.
The focus of any reform should be to reduce patient harm, from which financial savings to the NHS will inevitably follow. By concentrating on reducing the costs of claims, the government risks the NHS ultimately becoming less safe for patients.
Helen Budge is a Senior Solicitor in clinical negligence here at Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about making a clinical negligence claim or indeed any other aspect of clinical negligence and wish to speak to Helen or any other member of the team, please contact us on 0800 027 2557 or contact Helen directly.
You can read the research report from APIL here, entitled The Value of Compensation, which highlights the importance of this.