The NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) is to be re-branded and given a new impetus to settle claims more quickly and learn from clinical mistakes.
From April 1, the authority will be known as NHS Resolution as part of the Department of Health’s ambition to improve safety, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told Parliament.
The reforms come as the National Audit Office continues its probe into the legal costs incurred by the NHSLA, amid concerns that claims against hospitals are costing a significant and rising amount. The Department of Health spent £1.5 billion in this area alone in 2015/16.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that the NHSLA loses 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 – meaning the authority could have saved an estimated £150 million a year alone had it negotiated settlements with claimants.
Helen Vernon, chief executive of newly formed NHS Resolution, said: “The NHSLA is changing its name to NHS Resolution and publishing its five-year strategy, delivering fair resolution and learning from harm, which extends our role beyond the historic narrow remit of claims management.
“In those rare cases which involve brain damage at birth, we will work with the family, healthcare staff and the trust, right from the start to ensure that we learn from what went wrong and share this rapidly across the NHS.”
Central to the change is the need for trusts across the country to learn from litigation cases and share experiences, she said.
The Society of Clinical Injury Lawyers – of which Gotelee is a member – has called for changes to the current system, arguing that too often due to a reluctance to settle indefensible cases it was necessary to take them to Court, adding to the frustrations and suffering of patients failed by the system.
Gotelee has welcomed the reforms but Litigation Partner Tim Humpage said a change in name alone wouldn’t solve the NHSLA’s problems. Instead, he called on the Department of Health to ensure it delivers a more patient-focused approach to dealing with claims.
How can our 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.
To find out more, call us on 01473 298125.