New £400m contract for NHS legal advice

Earlier this week it was announced by Department of Health that its new panel of 11 defendant medical negligence law firms will together take part in a £400m contract for advice to the National Health Service, mainly with regard to medical negligence liability issues, over the next four years.

Nationally, NHS medical negligence claims for compensation have shot up by 18% over the last 12 months.Why? Our experience is that far too many health authorities seem to reject any notion that mistakes can be made by their staff. A significant number of the cases we run, are ones where it appears to our specialist medical solicitors, that liability is straightforward, yet hospitals refused to accept the issue of liability, significantly increasing legal costs.

We all make mistakes – even professionals. Why should doctors be any different. It’s perfectly clear from independent studies, such as the annual reports by the excellent Dr Foster website (run by the specialist health service research unit at University College, London) that far too many hospitals fail to follow best practice – and it’s usually these hospitals for prompt most medical negligence claims.

None of us want to see more scandals like that affecting North Staffordshire Hospital or more recently, and closer to home, the Royal Bournemouth Hospital Cancer Misdiagnosis recall.

Let’s hope this new legal panel will provide tough advice to health authorities on issues regarding liability for medical negligence claims – and provide quicker justice for victims of medical errors and reduce levels of unnecessary legal costs.