Despite alarming figures about a soaring number of negligence claims for compensation faced by the NHS, the head of the NHS Litigation Authority has claimed that increasing negligence is not to blame.
Professor Sir Bruce Keogh recently published his report on the high death rates recorded at 14 NHS trusts and foundation trusts and expressed deep concern at the quality of care being provided. Professor Keogh, an NHS Medical Director, had been in charge of a review of these hospitals and made it perfectly clear in the report that he felt that the service being provided was unacceptable. This is thought to have prompted a large increase in the number of medical negligence claims being brought against the NHS leading Catherine Dixon, the Chief Executive of the NHS Litigation Authority, to rush to allay fears about NHS care.
In the year 2012-13, the number of fresh medical negligence claims filed against the NHS was up by nearly 11% on the previous year and over the last year, there was more than a 65% increase.
This also significantly added to NHS spending as the amount spent defending claims rose from around £1.09 billion for the year 2011-12 to £1.11 billion last year.
2012-13 was the last year before the introduction off the Jackson reforms which changed the public funding available to claimants and largely took away legal aid in all but a few cases. It was widely predicted that there would be a spike in the number of claims made as claimants and their lawyers rushed to make claims before the Jackson reforms took effect.
There is little doubt that the NHS Litigation Authority will continue to fight clinical negligence claims brought against the NHS and a spokesman suggested that a new way of setting how much NHS trusts must contribute based on case outcomes would be implemented. As a result, hospitals which rarely found themselves facing litigation would have less to contribute.
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