NHSLA was keen to mention the rising cost of claims, there was also some good
news in its annual report:
have fallen by eight per cent. There is
quite a time lag before a claim settles. This year’s reduction in ‘new’ claims
should, over time, be reflected in a reduced number of claims settling. This
may, in turn, lead to falling legal costs in the future. Not such a ‘ticking time bomb’ as the
headlines would have us believe then.
So, do fewer claims
mean that fewer people have been injured during medical procedures? If only! That
would be excellent news indeed. However, we can’t assume that fewer claims
necessarily mean fewer injuries as it could be due to all sorts of reasons. For
example, the reduction may be the positive impact of the duty of candour
reforms. If hospitals apologise quickly, and give answers, it can make the
world of difference to someone in search of justice. An apology costs nothing,
but is extremely important to the victim or their family. The fact that fewer people feel the need to
resort to the legal process is a good thing.
NHSLA report revealed that obstetric cases – birth injuries – still remain its
biggest spend. Year-on-year, the cases are there, with no real fall in the
amount of lives ruined and opportunities stolen. When met with a wall of
silence, the legal route can be the only one remaining for bereaved parents. The
Royal College of Pathologists report that couples whose babies are stillborn
are being forced to sue the NHS as a means to get some answers.
sees an article about legal costs, we remind the press that behind every cost
is a person with an unnecessary injury, or worse still, a needless death. If
the NHS wants to reduce the rising cost of claims, it should reduce the
injuries it inflicts on patients. We know clinical negligence cases are
hard-fought with many drivers behind their costs. But the very bottom line is
that fewer injuries mean fewer claims, and lower costs. It’s as simple as that.