NHS blows £2.2billion a year paying for its medical mistakes, new figures reveal
- Despite Government pledges to tackle the scandal, spending has doubled
- It means £1 in every £50 handed to the NHS is used in compensation and fees
- Spending on NHS claims in England soared from £1.7 b in 2016/17 to £2.2b
More than £2.2 billion a year is being diverted from frontline NHS services to pay for clinical negligence claims, shocking new figures reveal.
Despite repeated Government pledges to tackle the scandal, spending has doubled from £1.1 billion in 2013.
The eye-watering figure – enough to pay the salaries of 100,000 nurses – means £1 in every £50 handed to the NHS is used to compensate harmed patients or settle lawyers’ legal fees.
Despite repeated Government pledges to tackle the scandal, spending has doubled from £1.1 billion in 2013
In some cases, ‘no win no fee’ law firms pocket more in legal fees than they secure in damages for their clients.
Spending on NHS claims in England soared from £1.7 billion in 2016/17 to £2.2 billion in 2017/18. Damages accounted for £1.1 billion and £1.6 billion respectively.
Payments to claimants’ lawyers shot up from £418 million in 2015/16 to £498 million the following year, before dipping slightly to £467 million in 2017/18.
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Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show medical negligence specialists Irwin Mitchell received £32.4 million in legal costs in 2016/17, while Slater And Gordon were paid £15.9 million and Leigh Day got £10.9 million.
Two of the ten highest earning firms got more in legal fees in 2016/17 than they won in damages.
Pryers was paid £6.4 million after winning compensation of only £5.2 million and Shoosmiths was paid £7.1 million but secured damages of £6.8 million.
Payments to claimants’ lawyers shot up from £418 million in 2015/16 to £498 million the following year, before dipping slightly to £467 million in 2017/18
Steve Webber, chairman of the Society of Clinical Injury Lawyers, said the £31 million fall in claimants’ fees last year showed Government reforms were working.
However, there is concern that efforts to cap legal costs in lower value cases have stalled, three years after Ministers announced the plan for ‘fixed costs’ in cases where damages were under £100,000.
A spokesman for NHS Resolution, which deals with health service litigation, said: ‘Despite a plateauing in the numbers of clinical negligence claims, the cost of claims continues to rise.
‘As our research shows, it is important to support NHS staff to do what is right when something goes wrong with healthcare and as soon as possible, which means an honest and upfront explanation and ensuring that families are involved in any investigation.’
A Health Department spokeswoman said work on fixed costs was ‘ongoing’, adding: ‘We intend to set out more detail in due course.’
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