NHS compensation culture is a sticking plaster, not a cure

19th January 2017

NHS compensation culture is a sticking plaster, not a cure

Amid the seemingly daily horror stories emanating from a crisis-engulfed NHS, you may have missed one eye-watering statistic; one which paints a disturbing picture of a service close to breaking point.

The National Audit Office has announced it will investigate why in 2015 the NHS doubled its compensation fund for clinical negligence claims to a staggering £56 billion – almost half of the organisation’s entire annual budget.

The NHS Litigation Authority is now losing three quarters of the cases it contests. The average cost to the NHS of settling at an early stage is £2,650 but by fighting through the courts that figure increases to £18,000. That means the authority could have saved an estimated £150 million a year alone had it negotiated settlements with claimants.

The current culture within the NHS suggests the standard of care to which patients are entitled is being slowly eroded and replaced instead with the sticking plaster of financial compensation when things go wrong.

Patient safety should always be at the heart of the NHS – but it seems the burden of increasing demand and dwindling budgets is chipping away at the service’s core principle.

The scale of the financial crisis facing the NHS was laid bare in July when more than 50 hospitals were given permission to miss key waiting times to help ease their fiscal difficulties.

The measures were implemented to help the NHS reduce its deficit down to £250m in 2016/17 after an overspend of £2.45bn was posted a year earlier.

How can Gotelee’s Medical Negligence Lawyers help you?

Despite the challenges the NHS faces, one principle remains: patients are owed a duty of care – and if they are let down they have a right to seek damages.

Making a claim could result in the person affected receiving the necessary financial help to deal with the consequences of an error, as well as providing closure and helping to ensure the same mistake isn’t repeated.

Gotelee has a wealth of experience in this area and can advise you whether or not you have the basis of a claim.

If you do, we can support you through the process at any of our offices in Ipswich, Hadleigh, Felixstowe, Woodbridge or Melton.

To find out more, call us on 01473 298125.

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